Jess Ellis Knubis Jazz Guitar Jess began his career in Wisconsin, playing in clubs and bars as a teenager and hiding out backstage so he wouldn''t be 'carded'. Club gigs gave way to studio sessions in Milwaukee. Then, to emulate his role models such as Howard Roberts, Joe Pass and Larry Carlton, he went to Los Angeles in the early ''70s. It was a good time to be in LA. The atmosphere was rich with singer-songwriters looking for sidemen, entertainers needing bands and session producers recording all over town. Jess kept busy playing, teaching and studying with some of the greatest names in jazz guitar, including Joe Pass, Mundell Lowe, James O. Stewart, Dan Armstrong, Ted Greene and the legendary Lenny Breau. In the early '80s, however, the LA scene was taking it's toll and Jess and his wife Gabriela moved to the Monterey Peninsula where music took a back seat to a thriving advertising/public relations business they started together. The creative work of writing, designing, and photography were artistically as satisfying as music and Jess kept the guitar in the closet for almost ten years. Then a series of casual events led him to the conclusion - 'If you can, you should.' The result was 'Sanctuary' a CD released in 1994 in the beginnings of what is now the 'smooth jazz' format. It immediately received radio airplay across the country and stayed on the charts for 13 weeks. But it also created a conflict in Jess' career; to hit the road and support the album with concert dates or to continue with the advertising and design work he enjoyed as well. With a wife, a daughter, a thriving business and a home on the Monterey Peninsula, it wasn't a tough decision. Again, his business and family commitments relegated music to a lower priority. In 1997 Jess and Gabriela bought a small, run-down farm in Napa Valley and spent the next several years refurbishing the buildings and planting a vineyard, all while continuing with their advertising/public relations business. But somehow, the music never faded. 'Sanctuary' continued to sell and people kept asking when another CD would be available. Jess reapplied himself to music and found that virtually nothing had left him as far as technique or creativity. As a matter of fact, from the perspective of his maturity and experience, he's never played better. Today, he limits himself to the form of the jazz trio, with percussion and string bass, to create a pure, modern sound, which draws on a repertoire of jazz standards, funky bop and R&B classics.
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