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Herb Ellis

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An excellent bop-based guitarist with a slight country twang to his sound, Herb Ellis became famous playing with the Oscar Peterson Trio during 1953-1958. Prior to that, he had attended North Texas State University and played with the Casa Loma Orchestra, Jimmy Dorsey (1945-1947), and the sadly under-recorded trio Soft Winds. While with Peterson, Ellis was on some Jazz at the Philharmonic tours and had a few opportunities to lead his own dates for Verve, including his personal favorite, Nothing But the Blues (1957). After leaving Peterson, Ellis toured a bit with Ella Fitzgerald; became a studio musician on the West Coast; made sessions with the Dukes of Dixieland, Stuff Smith, and Charlie Byrd; and in the 1970s became much more active in the jazz world. He can be heard on the first three releases issued by the Concord label, interacting with Joe Pass on the initial two, and he toured with the Great Guitars (along with Byrd and Barney Kessel) through much of the 1970s into the '80s. After a long series of Concord albums, Ellis cut a couple of excellent sessions in the 1990s for Justice, as well as 1999's Burnin' on Acoustic Music. After battling Alzheimer's disease, Herb Ellis died at the age of 88 at his home in Los Angeles on March 28, 2010. ~ Scott Yanow

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Birth Name:

Mitchell Herbert Ellis


August 04, 1921 in Farmersville, TX

Years Active:

'40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s