All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Multiple Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

379

Pieces Of Eight & The New Don Ellis Band Goes Underground

Jim Santella By

Sign in to view read count
Known for his use of unusual meters and remarkable innovations, trumpeter Don Ellis gave the world plenty to think about. If it could be done in the manner that he prescribed, then there was no limit to what other bands could do either. We listened, we accepted, and we learned that we, too, could invent.

Ellis gave us the inspiration that we needed at a time when jazz was undergoing radical changes. These two albums represent both the immaculate musical majesty and the innovative strides that Ellis was able to offer.

Don Ellis Octet
Pieces Of Eight
Wounded Bird Records
2006

While this double CD set is a rare recording that contains quite a bit of previously unreleased material, it does capture Don Ellis and his band in a familiar light. Recorded April 8, 1967 during a concert at UCLA, the performance came just seven months after Ellis' famed Monterey Jazz Festival appearance and album. The same rhythmic concepts apply, the same fierce soloing from woodwinds and brass appears, and the same kind of polyrhythmic density takes hold.

Tom Scott, just eighteen years old, stands out with some precocious soloing. He and Ellis tear it up with creative strides throughout the performance. Dave Mackay's blazing fast boogie-woogie texture in 7/8 meter sets the stage for "Pete's 7," which features both horns on fire and in a groove. Ellis uses a standard trumpet for much of the concert, with a little reverb and his Echoplex folded in gently, and works cohesively with his octet to emulate the big band sound through creative arranging. "Let's Go To Sleep" features his horn in a beautiful 5/8 lullaby that soars eloquently, while "Milestones" drives quite fast, with the full octet's fierce force in 7/8, and "The Squeeze" employs the free use of trumpet microtones.

While unusual meters dot the session, Ellis gives a well rounded performance that combines creative soloing and pure musical timbres with superior writing. His sidemen were always inspired. Pieces Of Eight comes highly recommended for its unique character and for its dedication to the timeless principles of great music.

Don Ellis Big Band
The New Don Ellis Band Goes Underground
Wounded Bird Records
2006

Originally released in 1969, this big band album from Don Ellis proved inspirational. It gave a contemporary quality to big band music - the kind of force that influenced college and university stage bands around the world. Vocals were added, and Ellis emphasized a smooth, pop quality to his arrangements. Melodies were easy to follow, and the songs caught all the emotion that he pumped in so generously. Nevertheless, the album contains the same kind of musical virtuosity that Ellis had demonstrated on earlier albums.

"Eli's Comin'," features a slightly different line-up for the band. The leader's open horn casts a tall shadow, as he expresses the tune's soulful message with emotions bared. Vocals and contemporary electronics brought the arrangement into sync with a new generation's popular music. The clarion trumpet evokes the true spirit of a virtuoso here and elsewhere. Unfortunately, a decision was made to close several of the tracks with a quick fade that leaves you hanging. This was an LP, after all, but time was still limited.

Funk entered the picture for Ellis around this time, and he allowed his band to explode with pieces such as "Good Feelin'," "Love For Rent" and "Higher." Patti Allen sings "Higher" with a powerful gospel feeling and pumped-up emotions. Her interpretations of "Send My Baby Back" and "It's Your Thing" earmarked this album as a pop venture that combined contemporary melodies with a unique big band sound.

The closing number, "Black Baby," a somber trumpet soliloquy with spoken words joining in the soulful refrain, stands out as the album's high point. Ellis gives his audience a powerful thrill, through creative soloing and arranging, but he chooses to share the package with a sampling of popular music from the day.


Tracks and Personnel

Pieces Of Eight

Tracks: Slippin' 'n' Slidin'; Sadness Shouldn't Go So Deep; Bali Dancer; With Respect To Coltrane; Pete's 7; Let's Go To Sleep; Blues For Hari; Milestones; It's A Snap; I Love Us; The Squeeze; Lush Life; Turk's Works.

Personnel: Don Ellis: trumpet; Tom Scott: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, clarinet; Dave Wells: trombone; Dave Mackay: piano; Ray Neapolitan: bass; Steve Bohannon: drums; Alan Estes: timbales, percussion; Chino Valdes: congas, bongos.

The New Don Ellis Band Goes Underground

Tracks: House In The Country; Don't Leave Me; Higher; Bulgarian Bulge; Eli's Comin'; Acoustical Lass; Good Feelin'; Send My Baby Back; Love For Rent; It's Your Thing; Ferris Wheel; Black Baby.

Personnel: Don Ellis: leader, quarter-tone trumpet, electrophonic trumpet, ring modulator, flugelhorn; Glenn Stuart, Stu Blumberg, John Rosenberg, Jack Coan: trumpet, flugelhorn, quarter-tone trumpet; George Bohanon, Jock Ellis, Glenn Ferris: trombone; Dana Hughes: bass trombone; Doug Bixby: tuba; Ron Starr: alto saxophone, clarinet; Fred Selden: alto saxophone, flute, clarinet; Lonnie Shetter: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, flute, oboe; Sam Falzone: tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute; Hadley Caliman, John Klemmer: tenor saxophone, flute; Jon Clarke: baritone saxophone, clarinet; Mike Altschul: baritone saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute; Pete Robinson: piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, ring modulator, clavinet, harpsichord; Jay Graydon: guitar; Joe Julian, Carol Kaye, Gary Todd: bass; Ralph Humphrey, Rick Quintinal: drums, vibraphone, percussion; Lee Pastora: congas, bongos, percussion; Gene Strimling: percussion; Patti Allen: vocal.

Visit Don Ellis on the web.

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 Scott Sharrard & Jack Pearson: Brothers by Proxy Multiple Reviews
Scott Sharrard & Jack Pearson: Brothers by Proxy
by Doug Collette
Published: November 3, 2018
Read All Over the Map with Losen Records Multiple Reviews
All Over the Map with Losen Records
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 2, 2018
Read John Lennon's Imagine: The Ultimate Collection & Imagine/Gimme Some Truth Films Multiple Reviews
John Lennon's Imagine: The Ultimate Collection &...
by John Kelman
Published: October 28, 2018
Read Singer/songwriters from the Shadows: Jay Bolotin and Ted Lucas Multiple Reviews
Singer/songwriters from the Shadows: Jay Bolotin and Ted...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 25, 2018
Read Jacob Anderskov: Into the Mystery Multiple Reviews
Jacob Anderskov: Into the Mystery
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 22, 2018
Read Up From The Roots: Cary Morin, Colin James, Joanne Shaw Taylor & Chris Youlden Multiple Reviews
Up From The Roots: Cary Morin, Colin James, Joanne Shaw...
by Doug Collette
Published: October 21, 2018
Read "Kasper Staub: Slow Music for Fast Times" Multiple Reviews Kasper Staub: Slow Music for Fast Times
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 13, 2018
Read "Jon Catler: Sacred and Profane" Multiple Reviews Jon Catler: Sacred and Profane
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 3, 2018
Read "Latest From Eva-Maria Houben On Edition Wandelweiser" Multiple Reviews Latest From Eva-Maria Houben On Edition Wandelweiser
by John Eyles
Published: January 23, 2018
Read "The Original Delaney & Bonnie (Accept No Substitute) and To Bonnie From Delaney" Multiple Reviews The Original Delaney & Bonnie (Accept No Substitute)...
by Doug Collette
Published: December 23, 2017
Read "Groovemeisters: Dennis Coffey and Barry Goldberg" Multiple Reviews Groovemeisters: Dennis Coffey and Barry Goldberg
by Doug Collette
Published: July 20, 2018