Eric Essix, the Birmingham, Alabama based contemporary jazz guitarist released “More”, his 25th full length recording since launching his recording career in 1988 with the album, First Impressions. That debut recording was the start of a creative journey that has made him a genre icon – not only for his keen ability to fashion a continuous flow of infectious melodies and funky grooves, but also because while delving into several sub-genres (pop, R&B and Gospel among them), he has artfully dismantled past ideas of what jazz is and reinvented them.
During his first decade as an artist, Eric recorded four well received albums on Nova Records his own label S6 and Ben Tankard’s Spirit Jazz, and earned a degree from Berklee College of Music. In 1998, he reached an exciting plateau when he was signed by legendary Warner Brothers Vice President Ricky Shultz to his new Warner distributed Zebra Records. Schultz took a liking to Essix’s latest self-produced album Small Talk and gave the guitarist his first taste of national promotion and radio exposure. Eric’s single “For Real” was on the airplay charts for 25 weeks, reaching the Top 5. Southbound, the guitarist’s second album on the label, included a re-imagining of the Brook Benton classic “Rainy Night in Georgia,” which likewise became a radio hit in 2001. Eric has scored numerous further radio hits, starting with “Sweet Tea” from 2004’s Somewhere in Alabama and continuing with “Shuttlesworth Drive,” which spent 7 consecutive weeks at #1 on Smoothjazz.com and over 20 weeks in the Top 10; “New Focus,” which reached #27 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Songs chart; and “Foot Soldiers,” which hit #1 on the Smoothjazz.com Indie Chart and #9 on the Top Fifty chart among numerous other industry airplay lists. Five years after its release, “Foot Soldiers” remains in regular rotation on SiriusXM Watercolors.
Among Eric’s most renowned and acclaimed works is his “Southern Roots” trilogy, starting with Southbound and including Somewhere in Alabama and Birmingham (2009). When his beloved mother Imogene’s passed away in 2004, Eric drew on the power of his faith and music to create a moving tribute of spirituals and hymns called Abide With Me (2005). The guitarist’s most recent album, This Train: The Gospel Sessions (2016), continues this theme dramatically.
Eric’s 2013 collection Evolution combines the spirit of his Southern and gospel recordings, with songs dedicated to the four young women who lost their lives in the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street. Baptist Church. The guitarist reached another milestone with the subsequent release of The Isley Sessions (2014), celebrating one of his favorite bands of all time, The Isley Brothers. To date, the album has sold more physical copies and digital downloads than any previous release.
The guitarist’s catalog also includes Blue: The Modern Man Recordings, Retrospective, Vol. 1 (2003), its follow-up Retrospective, Vol 2 Ballads (2012), a project with an 18-piece big band (Eric Essix featuring the Night Flight Band: Superblue) and the a holiday album My Gift To You (2010). In the late 2000s, Eric expanded his reach in the contemporary urban jazz realm, touring and performing with some of the top names in the genre, including Jeff Lorber, Gerald Albright, Ronnie Laws, Phil Perry, Boney James, Everette Harp, Peabo Bryson, Marcus Miller, Eric Darius, Alex Bugnon, Marcus Johnson, Peter White, Mindi Abair and others.