Jeff Marx
 

Tenor saxophonist and composer Jeff Marx was born and raised in Detroit where his love of music was nurtured by the soulful influence of the Motown artists and jazz greats living and working in the area. Subsequent moves – to San Francisco and eventually New York City – allowed him to further develop his jazz sensibilities by studying and playing with many of America’s leading jazz musicians. From 1987 to 1992, he co-led the acclaimed jazz ensemble, Second Flight, with pianist John Esposito, drummer Jeff Siegal, and Downbeat’s year 2000 Musician of the Year, trumpeter Dave Douglas. Marx and Second Flight released Flying with the Comet, inspiring critical acclaim from Cadence, who dubbed their recording debut "densely structured avant {sic} bop…with a deliciously nasty edge" and from Frank John Hadley in Downbeat: "Flying with the Comet evinces the great enthusiasm and skills of the ensemble when evoking an updated 60s modernism." With the release of his second recording as leader, Treading Air, Breathing Fire {Soluna Records, 2003}, Marx continues to strike a passionate, lushly layered balance between lyrical and abstract music. The CD was co-produced by Marx, Jayna Nelson, John Esposito, and David Resnick.

On Treading Air, breathing fire, Marx encourages his band mates to achieve full freedom of expression while maintaining tone form, creating an invigorating session with players who know how to play openly while remaining connected with a unique chemistry that can be only described as simpatico. For this recording date, Marx reunites with his long-time musical friend, pianist John Esposito, and bassist Ira Coleman and drummer Peter O’Brien. "In selecting the players, there was really very little to consider, " says Marx. "John and I are kindred spirits, and I knew I wanted to record with him again. I’d met both Ira and Peter many years ago and appreciated their approaches and musicality. Each of these players has the ability to change with the flow of the music, so we are all able to play with has much assertiveness as we felt. No one was confined to playing a role," he adds, "the only thing I demanded was that we all feel the freedom to be ourselves. It gives a certain flavor to the CD, maybe unpredictability, like ongoing musical conversations," admits Marx.

Marx features four of his own compositions on Treading Air, Breathing fire, kicking off the CD with three in a row. He’s a lead improviser on "Times Change," a sinuous interchange of feels, harmonics and rhythms. "A friend told me ‘Through a Glass Lightly’ reminded her of Alice in Wonderland. It’s straight-ahead in _ time, but quirky. You’ve got to be up your own writing," he grins. Esposito’s graceful timbres introduce "Treading Air," an up-tempo tune where Marx breathes fire into his blowing, displaying a serpentine sense of discovery coupled with a burnished tone full of imagination and taste.

An extended live jam, Esposito’s tune, "Scare’em Stupid," packs a powerful punch in the center of the CD, and showcases each player in an exciting, multi-dimensional tour-e-force. "It’s very hard to get that edge in a studio recording, even if you’ve feeling loose," Marx admits. "Including this live cut was a group decision. When you’re playing live, you’re not thinking about ‘was that good?’ You just go on."

"I think I first heard ‘Song of the Tree’s’ on the Little Rascals," Marx says. "I haven’t heard it very often since, but everything you’ve ever heard stays in your brain. When you/re in a creative mode, your mind is more open to snatching things that seem to come up out of nowhere. Then, of course," he laughs, "I said ‘wow!’ what if we did it like this. ‘It’s a beautiful tune, and I didn’t want to improvise. I think it kind of like a cleansing after ‘Scare’em Stupid.’ John played it really nice and simple, letting the chords and sonority speak for themselves."

Marx’s composition, "Desperate Measures," started as a little practice figure and is presented in trio. O’Brien masterfully propels his tune 9/4 into 4/4 while Coleman doubles Marx’s melodic treatment in both intensity and scope.

The disc wraps up with two of Esposito’s compositions, "Forsaken" and "Zenobia," and each provides an opportunity for horn and piano to improvise on both changes and melody. "Zenobia" is very complex, the time changes every couple measures, but John makes it sound organic, not at all contrived."

As a teenager, Marx played blues harmonica and bongo drums, and loved listening to Louis Armstrong play the trumpet. "I had a lot of musical energy," he recalls, "but no discipline for practicing. There was always baseball, football, and music seemed too inward a thing to do as a kid." He had an epiphany at age 23 and was determined to get serious, quickly, about playing the saxophone. After taking lessons for a year, he left Detroit for California, where he studied diligently with Hal Stein for two years before the renowned teacher told his student he had learned all he had to teach him. "It was the first time I had given anything all my effort, and the beauty of what Hal gave me was he showed me how to learn, how to explore music on my own.

Marx spent the remainder of the 70’s in California then moved to NYC where he lived and worked or thirteen years before returning to the Midwest.

"The great thing about my moving around so much is I now have musicians I play with in different cities – Detroit, New York, Chicago, San Francisco. It was very nice. I don’t feel limited, Chicago is just where I’m stationed, he says.

Over the past two decades, Marx has been featured at the Cascais Portugal Jazz Festival, Greenwich Village Jazz Festival, and at the 2002 Detroit Jazz Festival, among others through out Europe and the United States. He was honored to perform on the National Public Radio memorial program for his former colleague, Jim Pepper, and has performed with Donald Byrd, Eddie Henderson, gene Jackson, Mark Levine, Kevin McNeil, Ed Schuler, Steve Slagle, Dave Stryker, Reggie Workman and many other eminent jazz artists. Marx is also featured on pianist Don Bennett’s Reaching for a Star (Madonis Records, 1999} with Jessie Davis on alto sax and Malachi Thompson on trumpet.

As a lead of his own ensembles, Marx got a clear vision of what he wanted to do as a player. Since his first CD – Great Unknown, featuring Jeff Siegal {drums}, Michael Stevens {piano} and Santi deBriani {bass} – he’s developed new ways of playing in certain tempos that emphasize instead of clinches or predictable flow, and was eager to document it with a recording. "Playing music is an ongoing creative process," Marx says, "and I’m sure my next CD will take me in other directions. The same reason I first picked up the horn – curiosity about how far I could get as a player, how much can I bring to it, wanting to know ‘what is my limit?’ – is the reason I keep at it today. You know, people say, ‘my music,’ but it’s really just music: it comes through you and nobody owns it. The degree you tap into it is the degree to which you love it. Recording Treading Air, Breathing Fire was like catching lightning in a bottle."

For bookings or additional info, call 773.463.5362 in Chicago or 718.434.0534 in New York or visit www.solunarrecords.com

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John Esposito: pianist, composer, bandleader, producer

1994-Present:
Pianist and Arranger with Franklin Kiermyer band, playing on four CD’s and two North American tours. Pianist with Eric Person for SoulNote Records CD with Dave Holland and gene Jackson. Pianist and Musical Director for Bobby Johnson Quartet with vocalist Pamela Pentony playing jazz of the 1920’s-1940’s. Recorded sextet project as pianist/composer on ESP Disk. Recorded CD with guitarist Sangeeta Michael Berardi, playing piano, drums and contributing 3 compositions. Pianist/Composer with Eric Person’s MetaFour playing on 2 CD’s. Bandleader of SECOND SIGHT (quintet) and THE BOOK OF FIVE RINGS (nonet). Gigs with artists Greg Abate, Thurman Barker, Joe Bowie, Nick Brignola, Ronnie Burrage, Biakida Carroll, Anthony Cox, Kenny Davis, Dave Douglas, Dave Holland, Gene Jackson, Mark Johnson, Franklin Kiermyer, Joe Lovano, Eric Person, Sam Rivers, Pharah Sanders, Michael Stuart, John Stubblefield, and Pete Yelliln among others.

1988-1993:
Clubs and concerts in various venues with Anthony Cox, Dave Douglas, Santi Debriano, Jim Finn, Drew Gress, Bobby Johnson, Erica Lindsay, Kevin McNeal, Wilber Morris, Pamela Pentony, Marvin ‘Bugallo’ Smith, and Wadada Leo Smith. Accompanied tap dancer Katherine Kramer, Woodstock Community Center and Joyous Lake (Woodstock, NY); concerts with SECOND SIGHT (NYC) House pianist, The Village Corner, (NYC).

Radio
1999 Broadcast of Eric Person Detroit Montreux Concert on Brandford Marslais Jazz Set, NPR.
1998 Live Internet broadcast from the Knitting Factory; WVKR interview at Vassar College; live performance WAMC, Albany.
1994 WAMC (Albany) trio with Drew Gress and Dave Calarco.
1992 WDST (Woodstock, NY) with Rich Syracuse.
1991 WKCR (NYC) Arthur Rhames Memorial Broadcast with Vernon Reid, Reggie Workman.
1985 WDST (Woodstock, NY) with Arthur Rhames.
1981 WKCR (NYC) with Arthur Thames

Television
2000 With Eric Person at The Knitting Factory, documentary on WBET Jazz; Internet broadcast from Blue Note, NYC.
1989 WTZA (Kingston, NY) with Pamela Pentony
1978 Albany Public Access, Solo
1973-74 WMHT (Albany) Black Paper with Sky Train

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Peter O’Brien: Drummer

Peter O’Brien was born in Flushing, Queens, New York. The son of drummer Bill O’Brien, Peter began playing the drums as soon as he could sit up at the set, playing along with recordings of Miles Davis, John Coltrane and all the greats of jazz. Formal studies with his father began at the age of five.

Peter attended St. Andrew Avellino grammar school and at age seven tried out for and was accepted into the school orchestra which consisted of seventh and eight graders. He then received a music scholarship from Power Memorial Academy High School. Peter studied privately with Charlie Perry from age 13 through 17. In 1976, at age 16, Peter attended a drum clinic held by Charlie at Hofstra University. The last week of the clinic featured studies with Jac DeJohnette, whose interest in Peter led to recommendations to John Ambercrombie, Bill Connors and Miroslav Vitous.

After a period of sitting in at jam sessions and gigging around the city, Peter went on the road with various showbands touring the US. In 1982, he toured the US with Brother Jack McDuff and, from 1984-1985, performed all over the US and Canada with the Edgar Winter Band. The band featured the legendary singer Jerry LaCroix (original lead singer for White Trash) and is the only band to perform the jazz-inflected fusion material from Edgar’s first ground breaking record "Entrance" (Epic), as well as his rock and blues music. During this time, Peter also performed several dates with Roy Buchanan, including a sold-out show at the Beacon Theatre with Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells. From 1986-1987, Peter toured Europe with Mark McMillan (songwriter for Chaka Khan).

In early 1988, Peter moved from NYC to Woodstock, NY, and soon began working with John Hall. In 1989, Peter became a member of Hall’s band Orleans (Still The One, Dance With Me). Peter has appeared on seven CD’s (four with Orleans, three with Hall), three tours of Japan (two with Orleans, one with Hall), and countless US tours and dates (including Woodstock ’94) and was the subject of a feature article published in Modern Drummer’s Rhythm and News (Japan). Peter still tours with Orleans to date (2002). Other Tours include: Dr. Lonnie Smith 1992 (Spain), Rory Block 1996-97 (US and Europe), Tracy Nelson 1998-99 (US).

Peter joined saxophonist Eric Person’s band, Eric Person and Meta-Four in February of 2001. A new CD, "Live at Big Sur," will be released in early 2003. Eric, Peter and bandmates John Esposito (piano) and Kenny Davis (bass) performed at the Guimaraes Jazz Festival in Portugal in November 2002, and tour in support of the new CD in 2003. A CD release party is scheduled on January 27th at the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC. Peter is also a member of the John Espositio Trio with Ira Coleman on bass. Along with a trio CD, John, Ira and Peter are featured on saxophonist Jeff Marx’s new CD "Trading air, Breathing Fire," both slated for release in 2004.

In addition to his busy performance schedule, Peter maintains a limited private teaching practice and freelances as a studio session player. He has played on national jingles for Continental Airlines, AT&T, Macy’s and Burger King. He has also worked as a clinician at Bard College, SUNY New Paltz, and Western Connecticut University.

Peter has recorded and performed with: Mose Allison, Warren Bernhardt, Walter Bishop Jr., Rory Block, Nick Brignola, Brubeck Brothers, Roy Buchanan, Murali Coryell, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Drew Jr., John Hall, Dave Kikoski, Hubert Laws, Pete Levin, Mike Manieri, Brother Jack McDuff, J.R. Moutrose, Jonell Messer, Tracy Nelson, Orleans, Eric Person, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Edgar Winter Band, Pete Yellin.