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Review of 'A Thousand Summers' by Gene Ess

By Stephanie Kaplan,
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Gene Ess' latest album, A Thousand Summers, is a jazz-inspired album that unlike his previous albums, features vocals sung by Nicki Parrott. Parrott is a professional vocalist and bass player.

Ess is from Tokyo, but grew up on a US Air Force Base on Okinawa. By the age of 14, Ess was consistently playing at local concerts and clubs. Many considered him a child prodigy. Ess went on to graduate from Berklee College of Music after he received a scholarship to the school. He graduated with honors in 1990 and was eager to purse a full-time music career.

Throughout the 1990s Ess with went on a worldwide tour with drummer Rashied Ali. Additionally, he played with musicians Carlos Santana, Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison, and co-headlined several jazz festivals.

After receiving outstanding reviews for his 2009 album and winning several awards, Ess released A Thousand Summers in 2012. Although it was the musician's first album to have vocals, it soared on international charts and received great praise.

A Thousand Summers consists of 10 tracks, and besides one song being two minutes and 58 seconds, has songs that average around seven minutes each.

While this album is the first of his with vocals, Parrott's singing adds more to the quality of music rather than hindering it. Even with Parrot's vocals, songs like “Charade” allow the singer to show off her abilities, while having several minutes of sole instrumentation. This song has all the features of a jazz classic with its strong yet soft guitar and drum rhythms, and Parrot's slow yet beautiful voice. Other tracks such as “I Will Wait For You” features Ess' music as more of a background, as Parrot sings throughout the entirety of the track. Many of the tracks feature Parrot's vocals towards the beginning of the song, but fade away to a sole instrumentation section.

Overall, like plenty of albums, these songs tend to focus on the ups and downs of love, but have the additional benefit of truly talented musicians to backup a great voice. A Thousand Summers is a great listen for anyone who has a love of jazz music.

 
 

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