Don Ellis

Don Ellis… a name I first heard in 1972 during a music appreciation class in high school. And that name began my love of jazz.

Ellis was a trumpet player, drummer, composer and bandleader. It’s difficult to drop him onto a particular genre of jazz, he’s played with the likes of Maynard Ferguson, Charlie Barnet, and Charles Mingus, but was a singularly unique musician.  Big band, jazz-fusion, and movie soundtracks were just a few of his pursuits.

He had a custom trumpet made, a 4-valve model which allowed him to play quarter tones, the cracks between the piano keys. Ellis also experimented extensively with electronic music (ring modulators on his trumpet, for example) in the ’60s.

Ellis’ real trademark was his creative manipulation of time signatures. Works in 7, 9, and 27 were common. He even released an album ” Live in 3⅔/4 Time”. I think it was Miles Davis who once said that the only thing Ellis ever played in ‘4’ was “Take Five”.

33 222 1 222 – Yeah, it’s in 19.

Pussy Wiggle Stomp – insanely fast version and mad rhythm skills.

Bulgarian Bulge – written in 33/16 with the occasional 26/16 thrown in.

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