RFI: Don Ellis

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I started to watch the documentary on Zappa drummers referenced in a different thread. Early on they talked about Don Ellis (Ralph Humphrey had played in his band); this led to me looking him up on Wikipedia, which led to finding tunes like "Upstart" and "33 222 1 222" on YouTube, which led to me looking down at the floor, wondering how my jaw got there.

So: what's the best/most interesting/most archetypal album by Don Ellis?

SlimAndSlam, Friday, 11 May 2018 00:45 (five months ago) Permalink

The only one I've heard is Soaring, from 1973. It features one of Ellis's most famous tunes, "Whiplash," which is in that movie (I've never seen it).

grawlix (unperson), Friday, 11 May 2018 01:01 (five months ago) Permalink

well, his most famous album was "electric bath" - that's the one i have. big band jazz with a pathological aversion to 4/4. he also did the music to "the french connection", but the lp supporting it is far inferior, mostly big band arrangements of pop standards - i mean, if you want to hear the don ellis big band's arrangement of "alone again naturally", i guess you can go there, but the original soundtrack is far better.

there's a huge chunk of his unreleased tapes online for streaming through the internet archive, many of which are really great - there are recordings of his "hindustani jazz sextet", for instance, which was his group from before the big band that never released anything.

from his other records, his 1970 live at fillmore record has a total deconstruction/annihilation of "hey jude" that i love. "tears of joy" is another one i really like - milcho leviev had a big hand in that record, and it's got some nice tunes like "bulgarian bulge" and "strawberry soup" on it.

from his early career, he's also on george russell's "ezz-thetics" with eric dolphy, which album is of course essential. if you like this sort of thing the live album by john handy is a good pick, though i have to say that i personally prefer cap'n john handy.

Arch Bacon (rushomancy), Friday, 11 May 2018 02:23 (five months ago) Permalink

here's a great film of his band playing "turkish bath" to celebrate the release of "electric bath".

https://archive.org/details/calauem_000020

Arch Bacon (rushomancy), Friday, 11 May 2018 02:27 (five months ago) Permalink

really exhaustive ellis discog here

http://jazzrealities.blogspot.com/2009/12/don-ellis-discography-this-is-mainly.html

Arch Bacon (rushomancy), Friday, 11 May 2018 02:42 (five months ago) Permalink

I used to really like The New Don Ellis Band Goes Underground but haven't listened in maybe 10 years. Its considered overtly commercial I think, compared to something like Electric Bath- but stuff like "good feelin" are pretty freaky big band funk with ring mods, synths, breakdowns etc. Black baby was sampled by...kruder and dorfmeister?, and there's a Laura Nyro tune (Eli's comin)

Tib, Friday, 11 May 2018 08:43 (five months ago) Permalink

rushomancy otm. I would start wtih Electric Bath, which I think is a masterpiece. Would go Tears of Joy next, Bulgarian Bulge was the first song I heard by him and it's still my favorite. Probably a tossup between Shock Treatment, Haiku and Autumn for the next spot or two.

also this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI9caeoZ_kM

they call me melo gelo (Spottie), Friday, 11 May 2018 21:20 (five months ago) Permalink

Thanks for the recommendations. I'll try to rustle up copies of Electric Bath and Live at the Fillmore (I have a weakness for destructive/annhilative covers). I'll report back after I've listened.

SlimAndSlam, Saturday, 12 May 2018 03:14 (five months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Finally got Electric Bath. Report on first listen: not as out there as I'd hoped (mostly 5/4 or 7/4 with reasonably well-trodden chord progressions, though "New Horizons" is in 17/8), but terrific, detailed arrangements and energetic, committed soloing.

I'll give it a few more spins to see how/whether my opinion changes.

SlimAndSlam, Thursday, 28 June 2018 03:13 (three months ago) Permalink


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