Born: August 4, 1921 | Died: March 28, 2010 Primary Instrument: Guitar
Growing up just outdside of Dallas, Texas, Ellis first heard the electric guitar performed by George Barnes on a radio show. This experience inspired him to take up the guitar, and he became proficient on the instrument by the time he entered North Texas State University as a music major. While in college Ellis heard recordings of Charlie Christian, his main jazz influence.
After dropping out of collegeEllis spent time on the road with Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra, Jimmy Dorsey, and Soft Winds. It was with Dorsey that Ellis would record some of his first solos. He became prominent after performing with the Oscar Peterson Trio from 1953 to 1958. He was a somewhat controversial member of the trio because he was the only white person in the group in a time where racism was still very much widespread. Ellis, Peterson, and bassist Ray Brown toured and recorded extensively to become one of the most popular and acclaimed trios in all of jazz. He toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic while he was with the Peterson Trio.
Since leaving the Trio he has toured and recorded with a wide range of musicians, and also recorded his own sessions. He spent time with the Steve Allen show in the 1960's. The show featured plenty of jazz played by Allen and members of the show's band, the Donn Trenner Orchestra, which included such virtuoso musicians as Ellis and trombonist Frank Rosolino.
Ellis' Concord recordings with Joe Pass and with the Great Guitars (Barney Kessel and Charlie Byrd) have become modern classics. He was an early champion of the late jazz guitarist Emily Remler and played on a tribute album to her.
1956 - Ellis in Wonderland (Norgran)
1957 - Nothing But the Blues (Verve)
1957 - Herb Ellis (Verve)
1959 - Herb Ellis Meets Jimmy Giuffre (Verve)
1960 - Thank You Charlie Christian (Verve)
1961 - Softly...But with That Feeling (Verve)
1962 - Midnight Roll (Epic)
1963 - Herb Ellis and Stuff Smith Together (Columbia)
1963 - Together! (Koch Jazz)
1963 - Three Guitars in Bossa Nova Time (Epic)
1963 - Guitar/Guitar (Columbia)
1965 - Herb Ellis Guitar (Columbia)
1965 - Man with the Guitar (Dot)
1973 - Jazz/Concord (Concord Jazz)
1973 - Seven, Come Eleven [live] (Concord Jazz)
1973 - Poor Butterfly (Concord Jazz)
1974 - Two for the Road (Pablo/OJC)
1974 - After You've Gone [live] (Concord Jazz)
1974 - Soft Shoe (Concord Jazz)
1975 - Hot Tracks (Concord Jazz)
1975 - Rhythm Willie (Concord Jazz)
1977 - Herb (Musical Heritage Society)
1977 - Windflower (Concord Jazz)
1978 - Soft & Mellow (Concord Jazz)
1979 - Herb Ellis at Montreux [live] (Concord Jazz)
1981 - Herb Mix (Concord Jazz)
1988 - Doggin' Around (Concord Jazz)
1991 - Roll Call (Justice)
1992 - Texas Swings (Justice)
1997 - Softwinds: Then & Now (Chiaroscuro)
1998 - An Evening with Herb Ellis [live] (Jazz Focus)
1999 - Blues Variations (E.J.)
1999 - Burnin' (Acoustic Music)
2002 - In a Mellow Tone (Recall)
2002 - Twins (3D)
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