Friday, April 02, 2010

Another Great One Gone ... Jazz Guitarist Herb Ellis

We caught a post this morning that, truly, brought with it a good deal of sadness.

Legendary jazz guitarist Herb Ellis has passed.

I had seen him perform live, countless times, back in the 80;s and 90's and it was always, always, an uplifting, in-the-groove, performance.

Emma Brown notes that "Mr. Ellis was a member during the 1950s of the Oscar Peterson trio, which served as the house recording band for Verve Records and accompanied a who's-who of jazz greats, including Louis Armstrong, Roy Eldridge, Harry "Sweets" Edison and Ben Webster."

Legendary is almost an understatement.

From the New York Times;

Herb Ellis, Jazz Guitarist, Is Dead at 88

Mr. Ellis was an early disciple of Charlie Christian, whose deft improvisations, built on long single-note lines, established the template for modern jazz guitar in the 1940s. But he was always more than an imitator: his style mixed the harmonic sophistication of bebop with the earthy directness of the blues and seasoned the blend with a twang more typical of country music than jazz.

While never a major star, he was long a favorite of critics and musicians. In 1959 a fellow guitarist, Jim Hall, praised his “fantastic fire and drive.” In 1990 Gary Giddins of The Village Voice raved about the “easy, loping quality” of his playing, “buoyed by familiar dissonances yet surprisingly free of cliché.”


He first attracted wide attention during his five-year stint with Peterson’s popular group, which, like the Soft Winds, included a bassist (Ray Brown) but no drummer. The absence of a percussionist required Mr. Ellis to provide the rhythmic foundation for Peterson’s energetic playing as well as the guitar solos; he did it so well that when he left the trio in 1958, Peterson replaced him not with another guitarist but with a drummer.

Keith Thursby/LA Times - Herb Ellis dies at 88; jazz guitarist

Mike Finnigan - C&L's Late Night Music Club, RIP Herb Ellis

Herb Ellis, on Wikipedia

Here's some tunes, and we highly encourage you to explore, and seek out, some of Herb Ellis's music.

Herb Ellis - Sweet Georgia Brown (1986)

Freddie Green Herb Ellis Orange, Brown and Green

Barney Kessel & Herb Ellis - Flintstones Theme

RIP Herb Ellis!

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