Trumpeter Don Ellis (1934-1978) provided the instrumental focus in yesterday’s Third Stream Revisited post. He portrayed young Peter Parker, a boy learning to be a jazz musician. Let us look into Ellis’s all too brief future following that impressive 1962 appearance with Gunther Schuller, Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. He built on his experience with Ray McKinley, Charlie Barnet, Maynard Ferguson, George Russell and some of the most forward looking players in jazz to become a bandleader himself—a daring one. In additional to his skill as a player, he was a composer and arranger. Ellis built a substantial part of his band’s repertoire on his compositions using time signatures unusual to jazz. He adapted odd meters to a large ensemble and incorporated elements of Indian and Eastern European folk music. Here he is at the 1977 Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland with his 22-piece orchestra. Ellis announces the piece, which develops into a 15-minute entertainment complete with audience participation.
”Niner Two” is included in Ellis’s Live At Montreux album. The year following that concert, he was dead of a heart attack at the age of 44. For an extensive article about Ellis’s career, see Wikipedia.
A few of the musicians in Ellis’s late 1970s band—Ted Nash, Chino Valdez, Ann Patterson among them—went on to become well known in jazz. You may be interested in the complete personnel list.
Reeds: Ann Patterson, Ted Nash, James Coile, Jim Snodgrass
Trumpets: Glenn Stuart, Gil Rather, Jack Coan
French Horn: Sidney Muldrow
Trombone: Alan Kaplan
Bass Trombone: Richard Bullock
Tuba: Jim Self
Keyboards: Randy Kerber
Bass: Leon Gaer, Darrell Clayborn
Drums: David Crigger
Congas: Chino Valdes
Percussion: Drums and Mallets – Michael Englander
Percussion; Mallets and Timpani – Ruth Ritchie
Violins: Pam Tompkins, Lori Badessa
Viola: Jimbo Ross
Cello: Paula Hochhalter