All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

175

Don Ellis: Connection

Jim Santella By

Sign in to view read count
In the early 1970s, Don Ellis reshaped his big band, dropping the three acoustic basses and substituted one Fender bass. His guitarist added echoplex effects and wah-wah sensations, taking the group away from its straight-ahead big band sound and plunging it into the electronic decade. The band got connected to pop culture.

Ellis made a few changes from the standpoint of his trumpet leadership, too. His bright post bop technique, with its fluid syncopation, continued to lead with a dynamic presence. Ellis added a melodic fragrance, however, that introduced a different kind of air to his band's output. Lightly, like Herb Alpert, the trumpeter wove popular melodies into his performances. Maynard Ferguson and Buddy Rich were doing similar things with their big bands. Popular songs made great subject matter, and some of their work found its way into the movie studio on soundtracks.

Ellis' "Theme from The French Connection" combines his electronic generation retrofit sound with an intellectually challenging rhythmic arrangement that stems from the heart and soul of the composer's experimental work. His music has always been exciting.

However, the unique character of Ellis' earlier work is missing on this recently reissued recording from 1972. He and the bandmembers solo less often, preferring instead to let the music flow with popular melodies. Vocals are added to several selections. Electric guitar and electric bass take center stage much of the time. Keyboards surround the band with lush scenery. Still, some of Ellis' trademark features are still there. His trumpet rages powerfully on "Superstar" and his flugelhorn floats gently on "Alone Again (Naturally)."

For something entirely new and different, Ellis and guitarist Jay Graydon team up on "Goodbye to Love," each with wah-wah effects of his own. Each instrument approaches the effect differently, but they both achieve a deep blues feeling here and through several other tracks. The band's portrayal of "Lean on Me" gets a contemporary treatment, not unlike that of Quincy Jones and the theme from Sanford and Son. Ellis' shift to the new electronic decade made a dramatic statement in big band circles.

Hank Levy's "Chain Reaction" combines the old and the new. Ellis weaves a bright trumpet solo over a lush orchestral pattern that thunders with percussive excitement. Electronic whiz-bang tools jump out from all directions. Milcho Leviev adds a thrilling bebop piano solo with walking bass and drums that's complemented luxuriously by the string quartet. Meters change, tempos shift, moods flip-flop, and old meets new as Ellis summarizes his life's work in a suite designed to connect all the pieces. He's still in fine form, and he presents an exciting program designed to appeal to a broad audience. In all that he accomplished, Don Ellis was a superstar.


Track Listing: Put it Where You Want it; Alone Again (Naturally); Superstar; I Feel the Earth Move; Theme from "The French Connection"; Conquistador; Roundabout; Chain Reaction; Goodbye to Love; Lean on Me; Train to Get There.

Personnel: Don Ellis: trumpet, flugelhorn, leader; Fred Selden, Gary Herbig, Vince Denham, Sam Falzone, reeds; Glenn Stuart, Bruce MacKay, Paul Bogosian, Gil Rathel: trumpet, flugelhorn; Sidney Muldrow: French horn; Glenn Ferris: trombone; Ken Sawhill: bass trombone; Doug Bixby: tuba; Jay Graydon: guitar; Milcho Leviev: keyboards; Dave McDaniel: bass; Ralph Humphrey: drums; Ron Dunn: drums, percussion; Lee Pastora: congas; Carmelo Garcia: timbales, percussion; Tom Buffum, Earle Corry: electric violin; Denyse Buffum: electric viola; Pat Kudzia: electric cello.

Title: Connection | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Wounded Bird Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
 

Don Ellis

Nonesuch
2013

buy
 

Live In India

Southport Records
2010

buy
Haiku

Haiku

Promising Music/MPS
2010

buy
Essence

Essence

Mighty Quinn Productions
2005

buy
Connection

Connection

Wounded Bird Records
2005

buy
Don Ellis at Fillmore

Don Ellis at Fillmore

Wounded Bird Records
2005

buy

Related Articles

Read For You CD/LP/Track Review
For You
by Patrick Burnette
Published: November 12, 2018
Read Espace Cardin 1977 CD/LP/Track Review
Espace Cardin 1977
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 12, 2018
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review
Song of No Regrets
by Peter Hoetjes
Published: November 12, 2018
Read Ay  Que Boogaloo! CD/LP/Track Review
Ay Que Boogaloo!
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 12, 2018
Read When Sunny Gets Blue: Spring ’68 Sessions CD/LP/Track Review
When Sunny Gets Blue: Spring ’68 Sessions
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 12, 2018
Read Lake Geneva CD/LP/Track Review
Lake Geneva
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 11, 2018
Read "Those Were the Days" CD/LP/Track Review Those Were the Days
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 9, 2018
Read "Without A Trace" CD/LP/Track Review Without A Trace
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 7, 2018
Read "Life Stories" CD/LP/Track Review Life Stories
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 8, 2018
Read "At synge verden ind i en ny og mangefoldet tid" CD/LP/Track Review At synge verden ind i en ny og mangefoldet tid
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: May 13, 2018
Read "You Are In You" CD/LP/Track Review You Are In You
by Mike Jacobs
Published: September 13, 2018
Read "Presence" CD/LP/Track Review Presence
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 2, 2018