The album “A Thousand Summers” from guitarist Gene Ess is a collection of timeless beautiful songs from the jazz canon. Having concentrated on original compositions and instrumental music in his last 3 albums, this new album gives a peak into Gene’s roots of coming up with the jazz standards.
The music is arranged carefully in such a way as not to destroy the essence of the songs but still allow the musicianship of the ensemble to cut through. In another words, the musical integrity was not compromised in order to present popular jazz material. In order to accomplish this musical goal, bassist Thomson Kneeland was recruited to arrange half of the material to add another musical perspective to the presentation. If you listen carefully, it is uncanny how Gene and Thomson’s sense of music is very much on the same page and yet each brings a different shade of color to the music.
Much of the songs on this album are about love and the accompanying yearning, joy, and pain it can give to all of us. Music being a universal language is perfect to express the human feelings of love which is certainly understood by all humankind of every creed, race, and religion. Matter of fact, love transcends any artificial border that we may put amongst ourselves and is one of the true gifts of being human and makes life on earth perhaps even bearable. To love is to be human and the music on this album is full of musicians who truly love playing this music for the listening audience.
Nicki Parrott is the featured vocalist on this album. Nicki is a renowned vocalist and bassist and have worked in the late Les Paul’s trio here in NYC. The trio now continues as the “Tribute to Les Paul Trio” and plays ever Monday at the famed Iridium Jazz Club. Nicki brings her superior sense of melody and has a great ear for this music. Her singing is succinct, vulnerable, and understated yet undeniably beautiful and true. She’s the perfect messenger for the melody and lyrics for these arrangements of the songs and for Gene Ess.
The band led by Gene Ess includes Gene Jackson on drums, James Weidman on piano, and Thomson Kneeland on the bass. Gene Ess and Gene Jackson have worked together since 1995 and share a great camaraderie musically. Gene Jackson seems to know exactly where Gene Ess wants to go on the solos in an effortless manner. James Weidman contributes musical comping throughout and acts as the harmonic glue for the music. Thomson Kneeland keeps the music swinging throughout with his virtuosic bass playing and his solos are very deep. With a team of musicians of this high level and empathy, Gene Ess plays some of his most musical solos to date. All of his solos are very lyrical and adds positively to the music and gets into the organic aspect of the music.
Cindy McLeod of Jazz Review says "Gene Ess has firmly cemented his place as a major jazz artist of the new millennium. His post-bop work is delivered with adventurous spirit and intense ethos, offering a powerful, unique voice to the idiom. A guitarist of virtuosic proportions, Ess plays fluid chromatic lines that float and weave through the harmony. His performance is simply stated, yet reveals stunning technical fluency, the signature of all true greats. There's a delicious sense of tension/release with his performance riding over the rhythm section, Ess is a master of the art of creating dynamic interplay. Supple, sanguine, and superb are the three words that kept popping into my head as I listened, this recording knocked my socks off and will be in my CD player on a regular basis for many years to come."