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An Evening With Herb Ellis (Live)

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Album Review

Herb Ellis sets a concert stage afire with his masterful technique, sharpened during a long stretch as a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio during the 1950s. For this 1995 performance at Western Washington University, he's accompanied by pianist Bill MacDonough (a university alum), bassist Chuck Israels (a faculty member and ex-Bill Evans sideman), and Canadian drummer John Nolan, who worked with Ellis on other recordings. From listening to this show, it's hard not to think this is a working group, aside from an unsteady ending to a piece or two. The highlight of the date is easily the extended workout of "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," where Ellis really shows off his chops. His simmering take of "Billie's Bounce" never boils over, while Ellis displays his lyricism in a gorgeous rendition of "Body and Soul," even if he can't resist inserting a few humorous quotes.


Born: 04 August 1921 in Farmersville, TX

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

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...
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An Evening With Herb Ellis (Live), Herb Ellis
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