Tuesday, March 30, 2010

RIP Herb Ellis (August 4, 1921 - March 28, 2010)

The great Herb Ellis passed away on Sunday.

This obituary sums up an extraordinary life of a man who was a living link to Charlie Christian.

Some of Ellis' best work, in my opinion, was with the early incarnation of the Oscar Peterson Trio from 1953 to 1958. The line-up was Herb, Oscar and Ray Brown. An excellent recording from that era is At Zardi's.

When I think of Ellis the adjective great always comes to mind. One of his greatest albums after leaving the Trio is Thank You Charlie Christian, a tribute to one of his greatest influences. Another excellent album is Nothing But The Blues, which featured two of my favorite drummers, Stan Levey and Gus Johnson, as well as Roy Eldridge, Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown. Ellis was also a member of the Verve Records house rhythm section and a mainstay of Jazz at the Philharmonic, both of which were managed and promoted by the great Norman Granz.

Here are a few videos that show what a wonderful guitarist Ellis was. He will be missed.

With the Oscar Peterson Trio (1958)

With Barney Kessel

With Tal Farlow and Charlie Byrd

Rest in peace Herb.

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