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Don Ellis


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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 inspiration for his phrase “The Third Stream”.

Ellis took the genre to greater heights and not even the top 10 in New York City today can play his music.

Debuting his Orchestra in 1966 at The Monterey Jazz Festival, his “New Horizons” Band gave a performance that still stands as the greatest in the history of the oldest Jazz Festival. Restored footage with interviews from the band’s members rounds out this segment.

Maynard Ferguson, Jazz Legend explains Ellis as a Composer was never satisfied with a certain sound and one that was content with “Experimentation before Entertainment.”

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Minneapolis, the son of a Minister and Pianist Mother, Ellis became known for his odd metered arrangements during his College years at The University of Boston.


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  • catarinacassius

    goooooosebumps dude

    27 Feb 12:13am Reply
  • TheTaint

    Not quite my tempo.

    24 Feb 4:25am Reply
  • aproragadozo

    Best cover of Hey Jude ever. [2]

    19 Apr 2012 Reply
  • BraveSirRobben

    So amazing!

    17 Sep 2009 Reply
  • Weirdomusic

    Only 3200 listeners for THE Don Ellis?

    24 Jun 2009 Reply
  • radar123


    4 May 2009 Reply
  • SirAlecHendrix

    Don Ellis—now connected to the group ➤ future of jaZz

    30 Sep 2008 Reply
  • gwalla

    Best cover of Hey Jude ever.

    29 Aug 2008 Reply
  • tergan

    i listened to Live at Monterey from an early age. Years later when i discovered King Crimson their odd meters didn't phase me a bit ;)

    25 Jul 2008 Reply
  • arnsteot

    sadly unknown jazz artist..difficult to find anyone more adventurous and naturally experimental in the world of jazz i'd have to say

    10 Jun 2008 Reply
  • gakko

    Just listen to Sporting Dance at the Montreux album. There´s some amazing energy. Also check his early stuff with George Russell on his Ezz-thetics album together with Eric Dolphy. That version of Round Midnight is just outstanding...

    15 Jan 2008 Reply
  • schizodanny

    One of the greats. He should be up there in the scheme of things, along with Sun Ra and Anthony Braxton.

    24 May 2007 Reply

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