Eric Essix has never followed the crowd. Instead of comfortably settling for that which is musically and stylistically tried and true, he has consistently challenged himself; always searching for new ways to articulate his message. On this his eleventh CD, Eric mixes his jazzy guitar sound with gospel to create a heavenly blend on his latest offering entitled, Abide With Me.
On this second release from his Essential Recordings label, Eric interprets traditional hymns and American Negro Spirituals with reverence and sophistication in a contemporary jazz setting. Perhaps because of the spiritual nature of the album, Essix displays some of his most exciting guitar work to date with expressive melodic interpretations and several extended solo breaks. The album's centerpieces are a stirring arrangement of Lord I Want To Be A Christian sung by the incomparable Brenda (Torrence) Mackenzie and an upbeat treatment of the well known children's hymn, When He Cometh.
Over the past five years, Eric, a Birmingham, AL native and Berklee College of Music graduate, has highlighted the influence of southern roots music on his soulful sound and approach to jazz. On his 2000 Zebra Records release, Southbound, he brought to the forefront elements of gospel, blues and country music in his compositions, covers and production style. Last years release, Somewhere In Alabama, continued to explore that direction and now Abide With Me reveals Eric's genuine affection for the church music that informed his early musical growth.