Tenor saxophonist Dave Ellis's resume includes a number of diverse, high-profile jobs both inside and outside the jazz world: a tour with the post-Grateful Dead touring band, the Other Ones; a spot in Dead guitarist Bob Weir's Ratdog; and membership in the popular groove-jazz group, the Charlie Hunter Trio. But In the Long Run, his second album for San Francisco's Monarch label, is a straight-ahead jazz effort that shows his jazz sensibilities untainted by pop, rock, or hippie jam band influences.
Any doubts about Ellis's intentions here should be allayed by the presence of legendary producer Orrin Keepnews, as well as such highly-regarded players as master drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath, young piano phenom Eric Reed, and Branford Marsalis/Tonight Show bassist Robert Hurst. But what really impresses is Ellis's firm, full-bodied sound on tenor. From the first tune, a funky Ellis original called "Ced and Dunn," it is clear we are in the hands of a young musician with imagination and a solid command of the jazz vocabulary.
Ellis has chosen his material for this album well, delving into the songbooks of Ellington, Monk, Cole Porter, Joe Henderson, and Bay Area saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum. Highlights include a smoothly swinging take on Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," and an emotional reading of Henderson's melancholy "Black Narcissus." Reed, one of the more inventive young pianists on the scene today, contributes two hard-drivin' numbers, "Evil Deals" and "Rootie Tootie," a showcase for veteran drummer Heath.
In the Long Run should appeal to dedicated jazz fans and intrigue those coming to Ellis from a more rock-oriented perspective.