Considered a child prodigy by fellow musicians and instructors, Ess performed in clubs and festivals all around Okinawa at the early age of 14. After graduating high school, not satisfied, Ess left for George Mason University. There, Ess pursued classical music studies with Larry Snitzler, a prominent concert guitarist who was once Andres Segovia's disciple and orchestral composition under Dr. Glenn Smith.
Downbeat magazine presented Ess's performance of Lennox Berkeley's 'Theme and Variations' with the 'Outstanding Performance Award' in 1983. Consequently, Ess received a scholarship to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. There he continued his musical quest and was heavily influenced by the music of John Coltrane. During those years, Ess started leading his own groups, which included among others, pianist Danilo Perez. After studies with Jerry Bergonzi and Charlie Banacos, Ess graduated from Berklee with honors in 1989 and moved to New York in 1991.
Moving to New York City proved fruitful. Ess's first 'gig' in New York was at Condon's with the Rashied Ali Quintet. The personnel included Rashied Ali (drums), Reggie Workman (bass) and Eddie Henderson (trumpet). Ess's collaboration with Rashied Ali has continued to this day. Rashied's guest spot on Ess's acclaimed release Sunrise Falling" exemplifies Ali's shear technique and ability coupled with Ess's masterful compositional and accompaniment skills.
For this Blue Note concert, Gene will be joined by Rodney Jones on guitar, Harvie S on bass, and Joey Saylor on drums.