“Espinoza is already a powerful storyteller on his instrument, and he’s found partners who can execute his musical vision masterfully.” — Jamie Sandel, Capital Bop
Baltimore-based pianist Josh Espinoza released his debut album in June of 2018, with band members Mikel Combs on bass and Jeron Lamar Davis on drums. A debut concert took place at An die Musik on June 20th. An enthusiastic review of the album was written by Theresa Sise, jazz vocalist and BJA board member:
“The Josh Espinoza Trio’s debut album, Journey into Night, was a perfect way to herald in Summer 2019 with straight-ahead chamber jazz. Their music perfectly flows through intricate rhythmic passages, making classics feel fresh and originals, classic. The trio takes you on a vacation the minute their music begins with Burt Bacharach’s “Always Something There to Remind Me.” Every note Josh Espinosa plays on the piano is deliberate and sure, sharing the groove equally with drums and bass so that the listener is transported by celestial chords perfectly placed. The musicality of its complicated counterpoint shows an exquisite level of detail. Comb’s bass solo of delicate syncopation in this Bacharach tune feels like dancing.
“’In My Life’ was a happy surprise: The trio were able both to execute the rich phrasing and to say something authentic in this Beatles classic. Drums shimmer in this tune like a delicate flower – Davis deftly dancing steady as the music gently sways. In each listening, I want Espinoza to really lean in on the turnaround, and each time he dances away, making me want to dive into its folds even more. Like the last bite of a perfect meal, this trio should be savored; and so it is, till the last chord fades to silence.
“Espinoza’s originals are filled with movement and shadows, like a road trip at night, the illumination of light posts marking the passing landscape. “Streetlight Serenade” reminded me of walking in Rome at night when I was 16, when amber lights revealed dusty marble statues that seemed to dance in my peripheral vision. “Nocturne for Anna Maria,” also a Spinoza original, is another showcase for drummer Jaron Lamar Davis and is filled with moments for savoring the alchemy of the trio.
“Baltimore enjoys a robust jazz scene of distinct talent and dedication to the craft. It has been an honor to get a chance to hear these gentlemen perform at our celebrated venues and spirited jams. I am overjoyed to confirm that with this lovely album, Josh Espinoza, Mikel Combs, and Jaron Lamar Davis have created a joyous work of jazz, filled with life, that they navigate with inquisitive minds.”
The album has received critical acclaim elsewhere, including from Jamie Sandel of CapitalBop https://www.capitalbop.com/joshua-espinoza-trio-journey-into-night-review-jazz-piano/ and Dan McClenaghan at All About Jazz: https://www.allaboutjazz.com/journey-into-night-joshua-espinoza-self-produced-review-by-dan-mcclenaghan.php
The album is available on Amazon and iTunes as well as on Espinoza’s own website: https://www.joshuaespinoza.com/album.html