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Mitchell S. Kessler

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Born: January 22, 1960    Primary Instrument: Saxophone

Mitch Kessler was born in Cheverly, Maryland, USA in 1960 and raised in New York City. He began playing saxophone at age 13 and studied in New York with Billy Kerr. Mitch later studied with the legendary Joe Allard (whose students included, among others, Eric Dolphy and Michael Brecker) at the New England Conservatory of Music. There, he also came in contact with the great Jaki Byard, with whom he performed on several occasions and studied arranging. Mitch also studied composition there with William Thomas McKinley.

Mitch later chose a different path, pursuing a career as a lawyer. He never gave up playing Jazz...
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MITCH KESSLER With JOHN ESPOSITO/IRA COLEMAN/PETER O'BRIEN - Erratica (Sunjump CD 07; USA) Featuring Mitch Kessler on alto & tenor saxes & compositions, John Esposito on piano, Ira Coleman on bass and Peter O'Brien on drums. Sunjump mainman & jazz pianist extraordinaire, John Esposito, continues to release great discs with musicians known and unknown. I hadn't heard of the leader, altoi/tenor saxist Mitch Kessler - this disc is his debut, recorded in '08 - and was surprised how strong a player and composer he is. “The Sixth Marx Brother” begins with a strong unaccompanied solo tenor intro which is breathtaking. The rest of the quartet come in when Mitch states the memorable theme. Bassist Ira Coleman takes the first solo which is so fine and followed by the first of many superb solos by John Esposito, on of the strongest jazz pianists on the planet, an under-recognized giant. When Kessler finally solos, Esposito keeps a few different lines going at the same time, both hands commanding inter-dependent layers. This is a marvelous quartet, that sound as if they have been playing together for many years, sailing and swinging together as one strong force. “Deconstructing Post Modernist Dilletantism” has a rather Monk-like theme that keeps shifting in unexpected ways. Throughout this disc the bass and drums play together with tight, resourceful, connected lines allowing the piano and sax to explore and come up with surprising twists and turns. On the title track, “Erratica”, the sax and piano do an amazing job of shadowing one another, swirling tight lines around that are consistently inter-connected with the immense rhythm team flowing superbly underneath. “Panic” is an aptly titled burner that reminds me of Miles' incredible sixties without Miles (Wayne, Herbie, Ron & Tony!). The interplay between the tenor and the drums is just unbelievable. In a more perfect world, this disc would be played constantly on WBGO so that it had a chance to be heard and bought by the jazz-loving masses. In the meantime, it is you the DMG sonic connoisseur that would appreciate this treasure, so check it out and give some credit (cash?) where it is due. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

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1930 Selmer alto saxophone ("Cigar Cutter"), Beechler No. 6 mouthpiece, Van Doren ZZ reeds. 1935 Conn 10M tenor saxophone ("Half Naked Lady"), Otto Link 7* metal mouthpiece, Van Doren ZZ reeds. 1976 Yanigasawa soprano saxophone, Selmer mouthpiece, Van Doren reeds.

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