At First Glance:

“Merge,” a six to eight phrase melody developed and strummed into proving that middle register instruments can romance a solo without high register sounds or flares. Smooth yet oddly interesting with the flavor of a percussionist salting exotic shakers from around the world. Riffs, ticks and shakes add to deep melodic rhythms from quick witty original charms like “click” to idyllic blended melodies like “Sofia.” ESP incorporates non-typical “smooth” jazz progressions and phrases to a modern place that’s as equally evolving as it is pleasant.

ESP band performs music from their latest LP. Shown from left to right, Karl Sterling (drums), Brian Scherer (sax), Matt Vacanti (bass) and John Heard (percussion). Photo by Emily Gokey

The Band:

ESP recorded its first album over a decade ago and has since grown into a five-man fusion of jazzy musical styles. “I can have a different voice in this band. The solos and stories take me on a journey … It’s really nice to play new music,” said drummer Karl Sterling, whose skills lend him to several acts such as Danny D’Imperio, Mike Melito, Ronnie Leigh and Nancy Kelly.


The Sound:

Absolutely not Smooth Jazz, understandably. ESP up-tempo rhythms bop around modern jazz sounds. The delivery is by all means smooth and familiar to the smooth jazz audience. Saxophonist and flutist Brian Sherer delivers enticing solos and simmering accompaniments.


Take away songs of the night:

“Songo Sofia” from their 2004 release “Uptown Express”

“Zig Zag” from their recent release “Reach”


Catch Them On:

Westcott, at the Dolce Vita or on www.espjazz.com


Audience Moment:

John Heard breaking out a solo with the exotic shakers from Brazil and Nairobi



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