Gene Ess

Guitarist and composer. He had hoped to be a lawyer or doctor, but he became a jazz musician instead. This left all his family members confused and disoriented. Being a jazz cat is one of the many perks. Gene Ess is an award-winning guitarist who draws from a variety of backgrounds to create his unique style. Gene grew up playing classical piano and was surrounded by the sounds of Chopin and Beethoven in his early years. Ess, originally from Tokyo, Japan, grew up at an American Air Force Base in Okinawa. He was also exposed to Okinawa’s indigenous music and the jazz and pop music played in the bars for American soldiers. This all led to an early obsession for music. By fellow musicians and instructors, Ess was a child prodigy. At the age of 14, Ess performed at festivals and clubs all over Okinawa. Ess graduated high school but was not content. He then went to George Mason University. Ess studied classical music with Larry Snitzler at George Mason University. Larry Snitzler was a well-known concert guitarist and Andres Segovia’s disciple. Ess also learned orchestral composition from Dr. Glenn Smith. Downbeat magazine awarded Gene the 1983 ‘Outstanding Performance Award.’ Ess was awarded a scholarship to the Berklee College for Music in Boston. He continued his musical pursuits and was greatly influenced by John Coltrane’s music. After studying with Charlie Banacos and Jerry Bergonzi, Ess graduated Berklee in 1990 with high honors and moved to New York in 1992. He was a drummer with Rashied Ali during the 1990’s, and toured the world. His album “No one in particular” was well-received. Gene played in this group with Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison, as well as Lonnie Plaxico and Archie Shepp. Gene’s 2009 album “Modes of Limited Transcendence” has been well received worldwide. The 2010 SESAC Outstanding Jazz Performance Award was presented to this album. This music is composed by Gene and Tigran Hamasyan, a piano genius. Gene released a brand new album in 2012 that featured vocals for the very first time. The album, “A Thousand Summers”, will be released February 1, 2012. The music features Nicki Parrott singing and beautiful jazz songs carefully arranged by Gene Kneeland. Gene’s latest album, “Fractal Attraction”, was released in May 2013. Gene continues his exploration of voice as an instrument in a chamber ensemble setting with this new set of music. It has been praised internationally and reached #3 on the national jazz radio charts. This is quite an accomplishment for an album that was released independently. The quintet features some of the most talented NYC jazz musicians. They include Thana Alexa (vocals), David Berkman (piano), Thomson Kneeland (bass) and Gene Jackson (drums). Gene is also part of the Kettle Music Collective, a NYC collective. The collective will host member concerts, private instruction, group workshop, and seek to collaborate with other international and domestic music collectives for intellectual and artistic exchange. The collective currently hosts monthly performances at iBeam in Brooklyn, where members perform with various ensembles. Gene has recorded and performed with many great musicians over his career. Al Foster, Rashied Al, Clark Terry, Slide Hampton and Slide Hampton are just a few of the many great musicians Gene has performed with. Gene can be heard at various festivals and venues in NYC, Europe, and Asia. Blue Note NYC is one of them. Others include Iridium and ShapeShifter Lab. iBeam, Red Hook Jazz Festival. Pit Inn. Antibes Jazz Festival. Strasbourg Jazz Festival. Teatro Monumental (Madrid) are some others. from

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