Comprised of guitarist Mark Esakoff and flutist Michael Whipple, the members of the Ventura, California-based jazz duo Chasm 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 keyboards. Then despite his father's misgivings, eventually learned to play drums. 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 sound; 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.), "wind” (flute, recorder, etc.) and “skin” (congas, gut/nylon strings, 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 earthy sound. A refreshing twist of jazz in a world music cocktail. The band has also enjoyed critical acclaim and international airplay.
The latest album Wood, Wind & Skin is named after the sounds of the original instruments they used during their first album, CHASM (1995). However, the sounds of these new songs are more expansive than any of their previous four albums. And still, like their other albums this latest one has its own unique feel that is different from anything they have done before. Esakoff and Whipple have approached these new compositions imagining nothing as "a thing”. Rhythm in stillness and melody in silence. All the songs are instrumentals except for the final vocal track, The Silence Between the Words.
Mark Esakoff was born in Montebello, California. Playing guitar, luitar, ukulele and marimba; 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 classical nylon string guitar is just the prominent voice within the concept along with the marimba which he plays like a log drum piano. Esakoff also performs, composes and records indie rock under the name of Esakoff.
Michael Whipple was born in Oxnard, California. Playing flutes, keyboards and drums; 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 the name of Bodhisattva Jones.
The Chasm Band Family
Brad Strickland was born in Hempstead, New York. Playing guitar and electric sitar, he comes from a musical background in rock and has since evolved into very proficient jazz and classical guitarist. His most noteworthy contributions to Chasm’s music are his endless arrays of heady guitar solos. And in the tradition of jazz, he rarely repeats himself. Brad also is the founding member of the jazz rock 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 rock, 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 Czechoslovakian Juzek double-bass. Arne 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; later exploring the rhythms of world music. With this he has developed his own style and plays a hybrid drum set using djembes instead of the traditional drums. He often plays a different rhythm to the same song from gig to gig. Aaron helps reinvent Chasm’s music by causing happy accidents.
Wood, Wind and Skin (2020)
The Lovejoy Sessions (2009)
Bamboo Blue (2008)