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Gene Ess

Award-winning guitarist Gene Ess's unique style stems from a multicultural background. Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Gene Ess grew up on a US Air Force Base on Okinawa, where he studied piano while receiving a mix of influences. Gene's early years were filled up with the sounds of classical music, from Beethoven to Chopin, while growing up surrounded by indigenous melodies, and pop and jazz music coming out of American military clubs. All this amounted for an early obsession with music.

Fellow musicians and instructors considered young Gene a prodigy and, by the early age of 14, he was a busy musician, performing all around Okinawa. After graduating high school, Ess left for George Mason University. There, he pursued classical music studies with Andres Segovia's disciple Larry Snitzler, and orchestral composition under Dr. Glenn Smith.

In 1983, after earning an 'Outstanding Performance Award' from Downbeat magazine (for his rendition of Lennox Berkeley's 'Theme and Variations'), Gene received a scholarship to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music. It is during these years in Boston that jazz influences took a deeper root in Gene's music. While he studied with Jerry Bergonzi and Charlie Banacos, Gene became an avid listener of the jazz masters, and the music of John Coltrane became a focal point of reference in his creative development.

Gene graduated with honors from Berklee in 1990, and moved to New York in 1991. All throughout the early 90's, Gene recorded and toured worldwide with the late drummer Rashied Ali. During the course of these collaborative years, Gene played with Carlos Santana, Ravi Coltrane, Matt Garrison, Lonnie Plaxico, Archie Shepp, and Reggie Workman among others. This joint project with Rashied Ali produced one singular album, 'No One in Particular.'

Soon thereafter, Gene kick-started his own career as band leader, which has produced eight outstanding records that combine Gene's keen ear for musical collaborations and a strong personal point of view. In his initial albums, Gene explored and expanded the possibilities of modern jazz, increasingly featuring original compositions developed for a traditional quintet format (piano, bass, drums, sax and guitar). This period culminated with his 2009 album, 'Modes of Limited Transcendence,' which received great reviews globally, and the prestigious 2010 SESAC Outstanding Jazz Performance Award.

During these years in the New York performing scene (Blue Note, 55Bar, Iridium, ShapeShifter Lab, Red Hook Jazz Festival), Gene shared the stage with jazz luminaries including Dave Liebman, Al Foster, Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, Harvie S, and many others.

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"It would be a bit foolish to say that in the vast ... It would be a bit foolish to say that in the vast world of recorded jazz, you still have to look for music of substance. Considering how much jazz is released on a regular basis, there’s more than enough music to go around, but sometimes they end up bring nothing but sonic clutter. Gene Ess is not clutter, in fact for some it may be the jazz album you’ve been seeking for for most of your life. He was born Gene Shimosato, a cool enough name right there but that’s besides the point. For now he is known as Gene Ess, which in a way is cool in itself but that will leave potential listeners and fans to question “what’s Ess?” Now you know

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Primary Instrument

Guitar

Location

New York City

Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced

Photos

Albums

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Ah-Bop

SIMP Records
2022

buy

Apotheosis

SIMP Records
2019

buy

Absurdist Theater

SIMP Records
2016

buy

Eternal Monomyth

SIMP Records
2015

buy

Fractal Attraction

SIMP Records
2013

buy

A Thousand Summers

SIMP Records
2012

buy

Ah-Bop

From: Ah-Bop
By Gene Ess

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