DON ELLIS

Progressive Big Band / Post Bop / Jazz Related Soundtracks / Exotica / Soul Jazz • United States
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Don Ellis played trumpet in big bands and orchestras before leading his own bands and recording his own compositions. He experimented with odd time signatures and unusual instrumentations, and his Eastern-influenced jazz gained popularity during the psychedelic 1960s. Ellis also invented a four-valve trumpet and developed a slide/valve trombone called a "superbone."

Ellis won a Grammy for his soundtrack to The French Connection.

Biography Overview Donald Johnson Ellis 1934-1978, the Man... his Times and most importantly his Music is explored in the Feature Length Documentary Film, ELECTRIC HEART -don ellis. (status: Post Production)

The Story of the one of the most innovative Composer, Arranger, Writer and Musicians' of all time, Ellis was the first to create a fusion between Jazz-Rock & Classical music.

Pultizer winning Composer Gunther Schuller appears explaining Ellis as the advent of his own coined phrase "The Third Stream".

Ellis took the genre to greater heights and
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DON ELLIS Discography

DON ELLIS albums / top albums

DON ELLIS How Time Passes (aka A Simplex One) album cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
How Time Passes (aka A Simplex One)
Post Bop 1961
DON ELLIS New Ideas album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
New Ideas
Post Bop 1961
DON ELLIS Essence album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Essence
Post Bop 1962
DON ELLIS Electric Bath album cover 4.29 | 5 ratings
Electric Bath
Progressive Big Band 1967
DON ELLIS Shock Treatment album cover 3.00 | 2 ratings
Shock Treatment
Progressive Big Band 1968
DON ELLIS Autumn album cover 3.79 | 7 ratings
Autumn
Progressive Big Band 1968
DON ELLIS The New Don Ellis Band Goes Underground (featuring Patti Allen) album cover 3.61 | 4 ratings
The New Don Ellis Band Goes Underground (featuring Patti Allen)
Soul Jazz 1969
DON ELLIS Connection album cover 4.05 | 2 ratings
Connection
Exotica 1972
DON ELLIS New Rhythms album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
New Rhythms
Post Bop 1972
DON ELLIS Soaring album cover 4.05 | 2 ratings
Soaring
Progressive Big Band 1973
DON ELLIS Haiku album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Haiku
Progressive Big Band 1973
DON ELLIS Music From Other Galaxies And Planets album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Music From Other Galaxies And Planets
Progressive Big Band 1977
DON ELLIS Out of Nowhere album cover 5.00 | 1 ratings
Out of Nowhere
Post Bop 1988
DON ELLIS The French Connection / The French Connection II album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The French Connection / The French Connection II
Jazz Related Soundtracks 2001
DON ELLIS The Seven-Ups / The Verdict album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Seven-Ups / The Verdict
Jazz Related Soundtracks 2007

DON ELLIS EPs & splits

DON ELLIS live albums

DON ELLIS Jazz Jamboree 1962 [No. 1] (aka  Don Ellis / Wojciech Karolak Trio) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Jazz Jamboree 1962 [No. 1] (aka Don Ellis / Wojciech Karolak Trio)
Post Bop 1963
DON ELLIS Live in 3 2/3/4 Time album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Live in 3 2/3/4 Time
Progressive Big Band 1966
DON ELLIS Live at Monterrey album cover 4.46 | 6 ratings
Live at Monterrey
Progressive Big Band 1966
DON ELLIS At Fillmore album cover 4.09 | 4 ratings
At Fillmore
Progressive Big Band 1970
DON ELLIS Tears of Joy album cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
Tears of Joy
Progressive Big Band 1971
DON ELLIS Live at Montreux album cover 3.10 | 2 ratings
Live at Montreux
Progressive Big Band 1978
DON ELLIS Pieces Of Eight,Live At UCLA album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Pieces Of Eight,Live At UCLA
Progressive Big Band 2006
DON ELLIS Live In India 1978 album cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
Live In India 1978
Exotica 2010
DON ELLIS The Lost Tapes Vol. 2 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Lost Tapes Vol. 2
Progressive Big Band 2018

DON ELLIS demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

DON ELLIS Don Ellis Band Live In Doelen, Rotterdam album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Don Ellis Band Live In Doelen, Rotterdam
Progressive Big Band 2005

DON ELLIS re-issues & compilations

DON ELLIS The New Don Ellis Band Goes Underground/Don Ellis At Fillmore album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The New Don Ellis Band Goes Underground/Don Ellis At Fillmore
Progressive Big Band 2014
DON ELLIS Don Ellis & Brad Fiedel : The French Connection Collection album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Don Ellis & Brad Fiedel : The French Connection Collection
Jazz Related Soundtracks 2016
DON ELLIS Tears Of Joy / Connection album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Tears Of Joy / Connection
Progressive Big Band 2017

DON ELLIS singles (0)

DON ELLIS movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
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Electric Heart
Progressive Big Band 2008
.. Album Cover
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Electric Heart (2014 edition)
Progressive Big Band 2014

DON ELLIS Reviews

DON ELLIS Soaring

Album · 1973 · Progressive Big Band
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dreadpirateroberts
One of his last studio recordings, Soaring brings together a wide range of elements from Ellis’ past to create an accessible big band album with its share of fusion and even pop sensibilities. The record certainly still has its tricky moments, where it seems like half the players are hard at work doing different things, but it does retain a sense of completeness.

Ellis essentially has a small orchestra to utilise but doesn’t crowd his arrangements. There’s also a focus on more ‘riff-based’ playing for some of the rhythm sections – take ‘Go Back Home’ or ‘The Devil Made Me Write This Piece’ for instance and it’s generally a set of exciting tunes, opener ‘Whiplash’ not least among them. There’s still room for a couple of slower numbers – of which the brief ‘Image of Maria’ is perhaps the more heartfelt, while ‘Nicole’ is a bit cooler.

‘Sladka Pitka’ written by organ and piano player Milcho Leviev possesses perhaps the most varied arrangement, melding CTI-sounding light funk with what could be described as a car-chase horn arrangement, and passages that evoke some sort of bad trip. The most expressive song, even the most direct, has to be ‘Invincible’ with its coy beginning and explosive middle section – the stand out piece for me.

Fans of his earlier work may not enjoy this album, but if you already own ‘Haiku’ ‘Connection’ or ‘Tears of Joy’ and don’t have Soaring yet, it’s definitely worth a look.

DON ELLIS Electric Bath

Album · 1967 · Progressive Big Band
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darkprinceofjazz
Electric Bath was the 1968 breakthrough album for Don Ellis, An album that was nominated for a Grammy Award, It won the "Album of the year award" in Down Beat Magazine. and went to #8 on the Billboard Jazz Album Chart. Indian Lady the Most Famous tune from the album, with New Horizons and Turkish Bath close behind, One of the real groundbreaking songs was Open Beauty, a spacey psychedelic type tune, with Echo-plexed electronic Trumpet, A real experimental feat for the time. The whole album is very cohesive ,swinging like crazy and incorporating the Indian and middle eastern musical influences don was into at this time, The music must have really seemed Ground breaking at the time. Electric Bath is hardly ever mentioned as an all time great. But I think it is within modern big band circles any way. It does not sound dated at all, and the a fore mentioned Open Beauty really points to some of the electric experimentation within jazz to come, The Moody atmosphere is reminiscent of the Title Track to Bitches Brew, as well as Davis's rearrangement of The Wayne Shorter Composition Sanctuary. Most People don't even know Don was responsible for the film score to the Academy Award winning film "The French Connection",(try finding that on CD) Had Don not died 1978 at the young age of 44, he may now be a house hold name, I have all of his albums on vinyl and CD, Electric bath was probably his best fully realized work, His Pacific Jazz releases prior to this album are all worth hearing, and later, Tears of Joy and Soaring are great as well.

DON ELLIS Shock Treatment

Album · 1968 · Progressive Big Band
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js
In 1966 Don Ellis turned the world of jazz, and particularly big band jazz, upside down with his concert and recording at The Monterey Jazz Festival that featured exotic instrumentation, internationally flavored odd-metered rhythms and psychedelic sounds and sensibilities. The follow up album, 'Electric Bath', continued in a similar vein, but unfortunately on 'Shock Treatment' Ellis falls off the beam slightly and delivers something a little more conventional. This isn't a bad album, but compared to 'Live at Monterey' there is a definite fall off in bold experimentation and exotic flavors. What I miss most about the earlier albums are the breakdown sections where Ellis would play trumpet against a backdrop of percussionists and the band would vary the texture per song in general. Instead, on 'Shock Treatment' the full ensemble is more persistent and the horn section blares away at times when some more sparse instrumentation would be nice for a change.

There are two songs on here that stand out. 'Star Children' is 60s psychedelic ambience with exotica Gregorian vocals, twinkling echoed celeste, sitar (of course) and a Spanish tinged Phrygian trumpet melody that recalls 'Sketches of Spain'. 'Zim', written by woodwinds player Jay Magruder, is just an excellent melody that fits well in a big band format. On both tunes though, as is the case on most of this album, Ellis can't help himself from breaking out the big horn buildups.

For aficionados of modern big band music, this album is superb. The playing, orchestrations, recording and production are outstanding, but for those looking for Ellis' contribution to the formative years of progressive fusion, this is not the best one to go with.

DON ELLIS Live at Montreux

Live album · 1978 · Progressive Big Band
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js
Released in 1978, 'Live at Montreux' is Don Ellis' last record before his untimely death due to heart problems. This isn't Ellis' best album, but it's still excellent modern big band music, just not as progressive or psychedelic as some of his other releases. Early in his career Ellis presented an innovative big band jazz music that featured odd-metered rhythms and exotic instrumentation that proved to be a blueprint for artists such as King Crimson, Frank Zappa and The Soft Machine. Fast forward to the late 70s and times have changed. Due to the new found popularity of commercialized jazz fusion, as well as an increase in excellent high profile college big band programs, big band music was back, but with a new late 70s fusion flavor. Thad Jones, Chuck Mangione, Quincey Jones and Maynard Ferguson were reaching a whole new crowd of college aged jazz fans, as well as the new post-hippie yuppie crowd that wanted to put away their boogie rock and dig something a little more urban and grown-up. All of this was certainly having an impact on Ellis at this point in his career.

Two songs on here stand out above the rest. 'Future Feature' hit's a classic prog rock fusion Oberheim odd-metered bass line that drives solos from the horns, saxes and violins leading to many complicated arrangement change-ups and the final big buildup from the full horn and string section that recalls Mahavishnu Orchestra's album with an additional 'orchestra'. 'Sporting Dance' is hard driving and intense hippie acid jazz with film noir melodies and a long solo(s) between two battling trombones against a Cobham/Bitches Brew inspired manic drum section.

Elsewhere we get sophisticated and slightly avant-garde takes on popular late 70s music such as disco and Brazilian dance rhythms, as well late 70s styled slick intelligent big band music. If you are a fan of Don Ellis, there is much to like here. If you are looking for an introduction to some of his more progressive material, you may want to look elsewhere.

DON ELLIS Live at Monterrey

Live album · 1966 · Progressive Big Band
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js
Released in mid 1966, is 'Don Ellis Orchestra Live at Monterey' the first progressive jazz-rock fusion album? Could be. After laying dormant as a recording artist for four years, Don Ellis turned the jazz world upside down with this very left coast concert that fused rock energy, odd-metered time signatures from around the world, and a unique take on big band orchestration that threw tradition out the window. Throughout this album/concert we are treated to sounds and genre combinations that will become common place under the guiding hands of King Crimson, Frank Zappa, The Soft Machine, Miles Davis and others, but this was all brand new when Don Ellis took the stage in Monterrey and unleashed his unique musical vision on the world. The album opens with heavy bowed strings playing an odd-metered grinding diminished scale riff, it's that 'crime-jazz' sound that will be used to great effect by Robert Fripp on tunes like '21st Century Schizoid Man' and 'Pictures of a City'. As the horns, percussion and drums build the intensity we are treated to blistering solos on saxophone and trumpet. The second half of side one is taken up by 'Concerto for Trumpe't, a complicated brassy jazz arrangement that enters into proto-psychedelic territory in the middle section when the band drops out and the bass strings play an ominous drone behind a spacey trumpet soliloquy.

Side two opens with 'Passacaglia and Fugue', a mixture of classical forms with big band swing. Despite the classical pretensions and complicated fugal sections, the band swings hard on this one and features more hot solos on sax and trumpet. This track is probably the closest to big band jazz as it was known at the time. On the other hand, album closer 'New Nine' is probably the furthest. This one is a wild experimental number with many contrasting sections including tense crime-jazz horn build-ups, crazy psychedelic B3 solos, and odd- metered rhythmic breakdowns in which congas and tablas drive frenetic trumpet solos. Very modern and intense, this is a great way to close out this revolutionary concert.

I used to think Don Ellis' old school 'big bandisms' would be a turn off to young folks, but as I notice the rise in popularity of artists such as Mr Bungle and Diablo Swing Orchestra, It seems the lexicon of big band jazz has found a permanent niche in youth culture, and not just in an ironic or kitsch way either. If you like big band progressive rock fusion such as early 70s Frank Zappa, then you will probably enjoy this. Although this was released in 1966, it is one of Ellis' most modern and progressive works, and probably one of the most accessible to a fusion fan.

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