John Esposito is an American pianist/composer/drummer/producer who works on a wide array of creative music projects. His technical skills and the range of his artistic palette extend across the stylistic boundaries of the Stride Piano, Swing, Bebop, Modal and Free Music movements. He has performed and recorded with artists including Nick Brignola, Dave Douglas, Dave Holland, Carter Jefferson, Franklin Kiermyer, Joe Lovano, J.R. Monterose, David “Fathead” Newman, Eric Person, Arthur Rhames, Sam Rivers, Roswell Rudd, Pharaoh Sanders and John Stubblefield.
John is the owner/executive producer of Sunjump Records. He has created music for theater, dance, film, TV commercials, and multimedia performance art. He is a music faculty member and Artist-In-Residence at Bard College and resides in New York State’s Hudson Valley.
After attending SUNY Albany John worked as house pianist at the Gemini Jazz Cafe for several years leading his own group with guest soloists including Nick Brignola and John Stubblefleld and spent a year working in saxophonist J.R. Monterose’s band.
He moved to New York City in 1980 and met the phenomenal, young saxophonist/pianist/guitarist Arthur Rhames while playing on guitarist Steve Geraci’s Beat City label record date Aliqae Song with John Stubblefield and Rashied Ali. John worked in the Arthur Rhames Quartet for the next five years.
In 1985, John formed Second Sight – a quintet with trumpeter Dave Douglas, saxophonist Jeff Marx, and drummer Jeff Siegel. They recorded Flying With The Comet in 1986, an album of John’s original compositions released on John’s independent label Sunjump Records followed by Tiger Tracks (1987). This five year period marked the beginning of John’s work as a producer and in addition to Second Sight’s music, Sunjump released a Jose Chalas record, Living On Avenue F and Marc Wagnon’s, Shadowlines.
Throughout the eighties John also worked with saxophonists Carter Jefferson, John Stubblefield, J.R. Monterose, Hugh Brodie, Greg Abate, Nick Brignola, Bobby Johnson Jr, Roswell Rudd, Beaver Harris, and many others.
In 1987 John moved to Woodstock, NY and in 1989 formed the FM Artists Coalition with saxophonist Erica Lindsay and bassist Anthony Cox. The group lasted three years beginning with a series of monthly house concerts, continuing with two years of co-productions with the Woodstock Guild in the Kleinert/James Gallery, culminating in August 1992 in a three day Jazz, Poetry and Visual Arts Festival at the Byrdcliff Barn. John produced 25 concerts for the FM Coalition and the 160 artists presented included Karl Berger, Tim Berne, Cindy Blackman, Baikida Carrol, Dave Douglas Tiny Bell Trio, Marilyn Crispell, Santi DeBriano, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Howard Johnson, and Wadada Leo Smith.
From 1990-92 John played regularly with the Glen Richmond trio at Fat Tuesday NYC, and solo piano at the Village Corner, Bradley’s, NYC and the United Nations.
Beginning in 1993 John began working with the groups of Franklin Kiermyer and Eric Person as pianist and arranger. He recorded four albums with Kiermyer : In The House Of My Fathers (1993 Konnex) with Dave Douglas and John Stubblefield ; the critically acclaimed Solomon’s Daughter (1994 Evidence) with tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and bassist Drew Gress; Kairos (1996 Evidence) with the saxophonists Sam Rivers, Eric Person, Michael Stuart; and Sanctification (1999 Sunship) with saxophonist Michael Stuart and bassist Fima Ephron.
Gigs included Sweet Basil, NYC with Joe Lovano, Eric Person and Drew Gress;
tours of the US including the San Francisco Jazz Festival at Yoshi’s in Oakland, California; the Panasonic Jazz Festival at the Knitting Factory, NYC; Lincoln Center, NYC; a ten concert tour of Canadian Jazz Festivals including Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver.
John also played on four albums with Eric Person’s Meta Four beginning in 1996 with Eric’s More Tales to Tell (Soulnote) with Dave Holland and Gene Jackson.
Gigs included NYC club appearances at the Blue Note, the Knitting Factory, and Visiones; tours of Jazz festivals and clubs including the Montreal Jazz Festival; Fresno CA Billy Higgins Festival; Savannah Jazz Festival; Texaco Jazz Festival, NYC; Newport/Friehoffer Jazz Festival Saratoga Springs, NY; Detroit Ford/Montreux Festival; Newport Jazz Festival, NYC ; and the Bell/Atlantic Festival, NYC. Media performances included broadcast of the Detroit Montreux concert on Branford Marsalis’ Jazz Set on NPR.
John appeared on three more Eric Person CDs: Extra Pressure (2000) ; Live At Big Sur (2003); and Reflections (2006) with Dave Douglas and Kenny Davis. John toured with Eric Person’s Meta Four in performances at the Guimaraes Jazz Festival, Portugal; the Blue Note, NYC; Big Sur Jazz Festival; Blues Alley, Washington, D.C.; Savannah Jazz Festival, GA; Jazz Factory, Louisville, KY; the Brooklyn Academy of Music; dozens of clubs and concerts and workshops at twenty colleges across the US. Featured media performances include a Knitting Factory concert and interview on BET Jazz and webcasts from the Bluenote and the Knitting Factory.
In 2002 John renewed his collaboration with saxophonist Jeff Marx on two CDs: The Great Unknown (Naugual) and Treading Air...Breathing Fire (Soluna). John continued his work with Jeff Marx contributing four compositions to Jeff Marx/Jeff Siegel CD Dreamstuff (2005 Ayler Records) and playing piano and writing compositions for Esposito/Marx/Siegel Inyo (Sunjump 2009).
In 2006 John revitalized Sunjump Records which had been inactive since 1988 releasing John Esposito Down Blue Marlin Road, a deconstruction/reconstruction of some of Jazz’s most over-played standards. The second was a quintet date of nine Esposito originals, The Blue People. He followed this in 2008 with John Esposito A Book Of Five Rings ; Sangeeta Michael Berardi Earthship; and re-released Second Sight Flying With The Comet, on CD with three bonus tracks.
In 2009 John produced three releases: Steve Geraci’s Aliqae Song, an archival recording of that first meeting with Arthur Rhames in 1980; the previously mentioned Inyo; and Mitch Kessler’s Erratica.
During this period John began experimenting with music/video duet improvisations with video artist/photographer Laura Steele, culminating in a concert at University of Chapel Hill, NC. In April 2009 John presented a multi media concert with Laura Steele at Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY which combined through-composed and freely improvised music with Steele’s real time video mixing using prerecorded images and live video feeds projected on four walls. Audience seating was configured in various geometric shapes throughout the space. The septet was divided into three segments placed in different parts of the hall.
John produced two Sunjump Records releases in 2010: flutist Jayna Nelson’s Bloom Of Creation; and Orisha, his second trio CD with nine new originals.
2011 brought the release of Mitch Kessler’s Der Erlkonig. Other recording projects in 2011 include the Esposito/Marx/Siegel trio CD Tahrir (release date March 2012) and the mixing/mastering of Sangeeta Michael Berardi’s Calling Coltrane (release date January 2012).
A current undertaking is a collaboration with Sangeeta Michael Berardi on the music for a record date featured in the upcoming film Playing With Parkinson’s by the noted Jazz documentary film maker Burrill Crohn. This documentary film of Berardi’s life’s work as a painter/poet/musician is undergoing the editing process. The CD tentatively titled Mr P, is scheduled for a summer 2012 Sunjump release.