In response to yesterday’s Mikrojazz! review, reader Richard Weyuker wrote:
“I’m surprised that you left Don Ellis off of your list of musicians who experimented with quarter-tones. He had a specially-constructed four valve quarter-tone trumpet. I think that at one point, his entire trumpet section played these.”
Thanks to Mr. Weyuker for recalling the remarkable Don Ellis (1934-1978). Ellis was a virtuoso trumpeter who led a big band that thrived on innovation not only in the use of quarter tones but also the incorporation of a wide range of time signatures uncommon in jazz and such instruments – unusual in the ’60s and ’70s – as ring modulators, phasers, the clavinet and the Fender-Rhodes piano. Here is the Ellis band at Tanglewood in 1968 playing “Indian Lady.”
Don Ellis’s early death created an absence still felt in adventuresome jazz circles.