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Herb Ellis Herb Ellis

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.

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