All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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

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 The Gravity Project CD/LP/Track Review
The Gravity Project
by Gareth Thompson
Published: October 23, 2018
Read Experiments on Human Subjects CD/LP/Track Review
Experiments on Human Subjects
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2018
Read Street Scene CD/LP/Track Review
Street Scene
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: October 23, 2018
Read In Common CD/LP/Track Review
In Common
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 23, 2018
Read Jazz In Detroit / Strata Concert Gallery / 46 Selden CD/LP/Track Review
Jazz In Detroit / Strata Concert Gallery / 46 Selden
by Chris May
Published: October 22, 2018
Read Remember Love CD/LP/Track Review
Remember Love
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 22, 2018
Read "Terrestrial Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Terrestrial Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 8, 2018
Read "John McLaughlin and Jimmy Herring - Live in San Francisco" CD/LP/Track Review John McLaughlin and Jimmy Herring - Live in San Francisco
by Mike Jacobs
Published: September 8, 2018
Read "Master Legacy Series, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review Master Legacy Series, Volume 2
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: February 8, 2018
Read "More Songs About Error And Shame" CD/LP/Track Review More Songs About Error And Shame
by Anya Wassenberg
Published: March 27, 2018
Read "Reemergence" CD/LP/Track Review Reemergence
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: June 28, 2018
Read "Unloved" CD/LP/Track Review Unloved
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 12, 2017