Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

222

Don Ellis: Essence

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
A very interesting character, trumpeter and bandleader Don Ellis is probably best known for the big bands he led in the late '60s, which served as a vehicle for his experiments with electronics and unusual time signatures. Albums such as Electric Bath and Live in 3 2/3/4 Time are brimming with the excitement of an era that was filled with rebellion and a quest for individuality. In his own way then, Ellis brought a new outlook to the big band mold that was way beyond the traditional swing style of earlier prototypes.

Much less is acknowledged or discussed in regards to Ellis as a trumpeter in the years before his big band. Part of this is due to the fact that his early work has been hard to obtain or poorly distributed, save for the 1961 Prestige session New Ideas. Following that album and the two Candid sets that precede it would be 1962's Essence, the rarest of the rare in Ellis' oeuvre. Recorded by Dick Bock for his Pacific Jazz imprint, Essence is just now seeing its first reissue as one of just two releases from Mighty Quinn Productions, a new independent label specializing in rarified objets d'art.

Essence is a startling album not only in execution but also in the more perfect insight it gives us into Ellis' developing individuality. The album opens with an up-tempo romp through "Johnny Come Lately and ends with any equally brisk run through "Lover. In between are several free-form explorations that often dispense with timekeeping of a traditional nature. Pianist Paul Bley is in excellent form as he counters Ellis' sweeping statements with his own dense and chordal assertions. On "Irony we even find drummer Gene Stone adding color and texture by dropping coins in a glass (at least that's what I think he's doing). This is heady and experimental stuff, chock full of the sound of surprise, and Ellis and crew are up to the challenge.

Not the typical kind of West Coast stuff that Dick Bock usually cut, Essence is not that much unlike New Ideas (another fine set to check out); it's also vital for the early exposure it gave to Bley and bassist Gary Peacock. Superb sound remastering and a faithful reproduction of the original cover help to make this a precious reissue that Ellis fans will surely want to check out.


Track Listing: Johnny Come Lately; Slow Space; Ostinato; Donkey; Form; Angel Eyes; Irony; Lover.

Personnel: Don Ellis: trumpet; Paul Bley: piano; Gary Peacock: acoustic bass; Gene Stone: drums (1-3,6-8); Nick Martinis: drums (3,5).

Title: Essence | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Mighty Quinn Productions

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read The Songbook Project CD/LP/Track Review The Songbook Project
by Don Phipps
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Solo a Genova CD/LP/Track Review Solo a Genova
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Reaching Out CD/LP/Track Review Reaching Out
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read "Kami Fusen" CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by John Sharpe
Published: October 12, 2017
Read "Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Christmas
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 30, 2017
Read "The Dreamer Is the Dream" CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read "Love Letters" CD/LP/Track Review Love Letters
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: December 27, 2017
Read "King For A Day" CD/LP/Track Review King For A Day
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 3, 2017
Read "Beauty And the Beast" CD/LP/Track Review Beauty And the Beast
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 15, 2017