Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gene Ess Fractal Attraction Simp Records 2013

I have to admit my bias here. I love the underdog. I especially love the Independent artist and trying to do my part to shine a light on some artists that are every bit as talented as some major label artists that were fortunate enough to catch that big break. The follow up from the critically acclaimed A Thousand Summers finds guitarist Gene Ess back with a new vocalist in Thana Alexa and eight original compositions that while forward thinking for those progressive jazz types, Fractal Attraction still shows Ess with one foot firmly planted in the past. You can not move forward unless you under stand where you have been. Fractal Attraction is that perfect balance or as I prefer to say, "old school becomes new cool" in the most capable hands of Gene Ess. Vocalist Thana Alexa takes the point along with Ess and plays well against his keen sense of melody and swing. Alexa is a vocal talent whose musical stock is an arrow pointing straight up!

"Blues For Two" is a delightful two tonality blues with a bridge that is tweaked by the impressive arrangement Ess creates while drawing upon the inspiration of the classic Blue Note sound of Grant Green. "Ascent" times out at 14:08 and will probably drive the jazz minimalist over the edge but the smoldering Latin groove and melodic development should have even the casual listener dialed into the emotional connection created here. "Fractica" is the contribution from vocalist Alexa which has an infused pop sensibility while creating that perfect union of simplicity and complexity which compliments the piano solo from David Berkman.

The exponential growth of an artist such as Gene Ess in roughly a year is staggering. A quick look at the musical resume of Ess includes names such as Carlos Santana, Dave Liebman, and Danilo Perez. Fractal Attraction has the very real possibility of being that break out release that Independent artists dream of. Any negative comments concerning the release would be beating the hyper-critical drum and that is not why I am here.

Incredibly well thought out, imaginative and engaging finds Gene Ess as a name to remember!

Tracks: Silver's Fate; Blues For Two; Ascent; Letter From Boston; Tanabata; Fractica; Descent; Fractal Attraction.

Personnel: Gene Ess: guitar; Thana Alexa: voice; David Berkman: piano; Thomson Kneeland: bass; Gene Jackson: drums.

4 Stars!