They had me with the band name. Any jazz band that culls its moniker from a Miles Davis album title must be the real deal. And as it turns out, E.S.P. is indeed the real deal. The Syracuse-based quartet has found a way to bring the harmonic complexity of bebop and post-bop to a refreshingly modern take on jazz grooves that can accommodate the influence of greasy funk and stately Latin alike.
E.S.P.’s latest effort, “Reach,” was produced by former Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip – who was replaced in that band by none other than Felix Pastorius, son of jazz icon Jaco Pastorius – and reveals a strong compositional acumen matched by top-tier improvisation. It’s burning modern jazz, then. Bassist Matthew Vacanti is from Orchard Park and cut his teeth as a jazz musician under the tutelage of renowned area bassist Bill Staebel.
E.S.P. swings through Buffalo at 6:30 p.m. Friday for a gig in Iris in the Maple Entertainment Complex (422 Maple Road, Amherst). Tickets are $5 (at Iris and online at www.theforvmbuffalo.com and www.espjazz.com). Call 831-3271.
– Jeff Miers