BAMBOO BLUE is an extremely enjoyable acoustic (for the most part) jazz/world fusion recording, heavy on ethnic rhythm, pulsing with cross-cultural influences at every turn, yet injected to the brim with jazz, funk and blues at every turn. These cats can play and that's no lie! Bamboo Blue is not a lazy and rainy Saturday afternoon disc. Nope, this is one is for lively parties where people are dancing, making merry mayhem and laughing their asses off. Put this CD on, clear a space either in the backyard or, if it's large enough, the living room, and watch out as people start to gyrate every which way. Even the couch potatoes will probably start snapping fingers and tapping toes. Diversity abounds on this recording. The title track carries a samba-esque beat but Whipple's recorder brings a Native influence to the party - an unexpected twist. Esakoff's marimba further stirs the melting pot, and whoever pealed off those classical guitar licks really ignited his fretboard! "Close to Earth" features marimba in the background lending a jazzy undercurrent to the tune while the heavy lifting is accorded Strickland's electric sitar (played in a jazzy vein yet also reminding this old hippie of many psychedelic recordings from the '60s) plus lots of great guitar work and thumping beats from the drum kit and bongos. Herbie Mann-ish flute gets thrown into the mix and well, damn, this music just flat out kicks yer ass! Ahh, here comes the mellow bass and "hep-cat" era bongos of "Potamus Walk" made even hipper with marimba in the forefront as well as more of that way-cool flute work. This tune and "Soothsayer Swing" may remind oldsters (yeah, I'm talkin' to you out there...I'm not the only one) of themes from some classic cult TV shows from the past e,g, The Saint and T.H.E. Cat when the whole bongo/marimba/flute combination was king, baby! I love these two songs, especially "Soothsayer Sing." "Andy Goes to Havana" is, of course, a nod toward that island's musical influence, but with much more than that going on as well. The overt Cuban flavor is thrown into the spice grinder and then infused with more than a few other flavors to yield a true fusion of styles, in this case jazzy-bluesy piano runs and laid back riffs on the guitar. Snazzy...very snazzy! "Now What?" seems to draw it's inspiration from it's very title, as if the assembled musicians turned to each other and just said "Let's go for it." Featuring the most thunderous drum work on the CD, the song has lots of energy but also plenty of hot licks on guitar as well as a nice marimba solo and some solid flute playing. Despite the fast tempo and high energy level, it's not so revved up as to derail the congenial and cheery mood established by the other tracks here. The album ends with "A Balance of Extremes," a vocal tune, the lyrical content which is more than a little subversive if you listen to them. It reminds me a bit (message-wise) of the late Kirsty MacColl's "Walking Down Madison." Bamboo Blue is simply too much fun. If these cats didn't have a blast recording this album, I'd be shocked. Of course, they did all the hard work and we get to have all the pleasure - not a bad deal in my book. So, dear readers, if you don't have a good time listening to this CD, get a life, ya damn grouches! Or, as they say on fark.com, "Lighten up, Francis!" -Bill Binkelman New Age Reporter / June 2008 BIOGRAPHY Comprised of flutist Michael Whipple and guitarist Mark Esakoff, the members of the Ventura, CA-based jazz duo Chasm (pronounced kaz'm) first met in 1987. As a youngster, Whipple's family moved around a lot (his father was a military man), and when his father forbade him to learn the drums, he picked up the flute and also taught himself how to play the recorder, keyboards, marimba, and despite his father's misgivings, eventually drums and percussion. Esakoff, on the other hand, picked up guitar at the age of 13, equally inspired by rock and folk, eventually traveling with his instrument throughout America, Europe, and North Africa, before hooking up with Whipple. Since then they have added band members and continue to evolve with their World Jazz music; blending contemporary jazz within a world music setting. Chasm's sound originally centered on instruments that resonate from one of three sources: "wood" (marimba, claves, etc.), "skin" (congas, gut/nylon strings, etc.), and "wind" (flute, recorder, etc.). Later, some metallic and electric sounds were added for sparkle. Chasm's sound concept is to connect primitive acoustic textures with modern musical structures. The result is instrumental music with a uniquely natural sound. A refreshing twist of jazz in a world music cocktail. The band has also enjoyed critical acclaim and international airplay. Chasm is: Michael Whipple on flute, keyboards & percussion; Mark Esakoff on classical guitar, marimba & ukulele; Brad Strickland on classical guitar & electric sitar; Arne Anselm on upright acoustic bass; and Aaron Winters on drums. Guest musicians also appear: Brad Ranola on drums, bongos & cajon; Bodhi Jones on bass & drums; and Mark Freddy on danmo, angklung & vocals. Michael Whipple was born in Oxnard, CA. Playing flutes, keyboards, congas & percussion; he comes from a musical background in prog-rock, jazz and later experimenting with numerous fringe genres. Being a "chameleon" of sorts he uses musical instruments as tools to realize color, line, shape and texture as he reacts visually to what he hears. Whipple also performs, composes and records jazz under his given name. Mark Esakoff was born in Montebello, CA. Playing guitar, marimba & ukulele; he comes from a musical background in rock and folk, later being inspired by jazz and flamenco while studying music at San Diego State University. As co-founder of Chasm, he considers himself a songwriter with a sound concept more than a guitarist. The acoustic nylon string guitar is just the prominent voice within the concept along with the marimba which he plays like a "log drum piano". Brad Strickland was born in Hempstead, New York. Playing guitar and electric sitar; he comes from a musical background rooted in rock and has since evolved into a very proficient jazz and classical guitarist. His most noteworthy contributions to Chasm's music are his endless array of "heady" guitar solos. And in the tradition of jazz, he rarely repeats himself. Strickland is also the founder of the jazz fusion band, The Art Farmers. Arne Anselm was born in Santa Barbara, California. Playing the upright acoustic bass; he comes from a musical background rooted in punk, but has now morphed into a world music bassist. He is able to create rich tones that provide the perfect "acoustic couch" for Chasm's sound with his 1930's Juzek double-bass from Czechoslovakia. Anselm also plays in the Gypsy jazz band, Swing Cheese. Aaron Winters was born in Los Angeles, California. Playing drums & percussion; he comes from a musical background in rock, jazz, funk and reggae, then later explored world music rhythms. With this he has developed his own style and plays a hi-bred drum set using the djembe instead of the traditional drums. He often plays a different rhythm to the same song from gig to gig. Winters helps reinvent Chasm's music by causing "happy accidents".