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; a blending of 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, NY. 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, CA. 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, CA. Playing drums & percussion; he comes from a musical background in rock, jazz, funk and reggae, then later exploring 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 sound by causing “happy accidents”.
"I give these folks a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED... and an 'EQ' (energy quotient) rating of 4.82 on a scale of 1-5" -Improvijazzation Nation / Issue #98, January 2010
"Bamboo Blue is simply too much fun. If these cats didn't have a blast recording this album, I'd be shocked... if you don't have a good time listening to this CD, get a life, ya damn grouches!" -Bill Binkelman / Zone Music Reporter, June 2008
"The team of Michael Whipple and Mark Esakoff is first-rate, and the performances by this duo are first-rate examples of contemporary jazz within a world music setting. Excellent." -Jazz Review, Vol. 168 / 2001
"Chasm has taken a very passionate approach to their songs. There is a natural purity of sound that has nothing to prove or an ego to boost up and defend. This is the pure joy of sharing your art so that others may take pleasure in it also. Check this one out." -Awareness Magazine, July / August 2001
"Even after you've listened to this CD (Panorhythmica) many times, its musical depth keeps it fresh and engaging, as new melodies and beats continue to emerge and amaze." -Spa Magazine, January / February 2002
"For lovers of cordially melodic music, these worthy musicians offer a sound of their own." -All About Jazz, March 2003
"Bamboo Blue is definitely feel good music. You can dance to it and feel like you are at a party in a Peter Sellers movie. If you are looking for something a bit different, mellow, tropical in feel, not trippy or introspective, here you have Chasm’s own well-crafted sound." -Innerchange Magazine, April / May 2008
"Chasm draws you in to an exuberant, joyful, and joy-filled presentation of World Fusion music. A rhythmic, infectious beat calls for hands to clap and feet to dance with bodies swaying and gyrating." -Wind and Wire, February 2004
"Sound and talent that cannot help but delight both the masses and the most discriminating music lover." -Spirit of Change September / October 2001