Monday, March 29, 2010

Herb Ellis 1921-2010

I am sure I have told this story before.  Well, here it is again.  I fell in love with Herb Ellis when I first became interested in jazz.  I was big into guitar players back then and collected a lot of them: Barney Kessel, Kenny Burrell, Tal Farlow, Wes Montgomery.  But the guy who really got to me was Herb Ellis.  I recall he once said something like this: there may be faster players, but if they ain't got that feelin', I got 'em.  Well, Ellis had that feelin'. 

In 1984, when my brother was visiting me in Southern California, jazz guitarist Lenny Breau was murdered.  I didn't know Breau's work, and still don't.  A benefit show was held in a small jazz club for Breau's widow.  My brother can actually play the guitar, something I have never managed.  He works today making guitars for Gibson.  He was up for the benefit and we got tickets.  I have to confess that I can't remember the many fine musicians who played there.  I do remember Ellis.  I got to shake his hand as he smoked a thin cigar during a break. 

Ellis was the real thing.  He died today, of Alzheimer.  I plan to do a better post in his memory in the next few days.  Meanwhile there is this sample, from a collaboration with Monty Alexander (piano) and Ray Brown (bass). 
Monty Alexander, Herb Ellis, Ray Brown/For All We Know/Overseas Special
And here is a clip of Ellis doing what Ellis did. 

1 comment:

  1. Great story. Perhaps you'd like to add it to the memories of Herb at