You do not want to miss out on this special, 1-night concert. Tickets available at the Port Theatre.
John Ellis is among the rising generation of today’s jazz musicians who draw inspiration from New Orleans music. “A Tale of Two Cities” would make the ideal title for the John Ellis story. The gifted, versatile saxophonist/clarinetist/composer occupies an imaginary (and extremely imaginative) space directly between the celebratory, welcoming spirit of New Orleans and the edgy, frantic streets of New York City. Both as the leader of his own eclectic projects and as an in-demand sideman for a mind-boggling number and variety of artists, Ellis expresses a keen intellect and easy virtuosity while maintaining a mischievous gleam in his eye and never letting tongue stray far from cheek.
While New Orleans and New York are Ellis’ two spiritual (and, over the last 22 years, actual) homes, he doesn’t hail from either city – or any city at all, for that matter. He grew up in rural North Carolina, two and a half miles outside of a tiny town populated by only 200 people.
In 1993, Ellis moved to New Orleans to study with renowned jazz family patriarch Ellis Marsalis, eventually playing in the pianist’s band while jamming with local peers like trumpeter Nicholas Payton. He released his debut album, The Language of Love, in 1996 and a year later relocated to New York City. Despite the move, the name of his 2005 album One Foot in the Swamp captures his continuing ties to the Bayou, which shines through in the southern-accented, gospel-tinged funk grooves of his music. Ellis has released nine albums as a leader, three of those featuring his urban carnival band Double-Wide, which has toured extensively and was featured on the Main Stage of the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival.
Having established himself as one of New York’s premier tenor saxophonists since his arrival in 1997, he’s since worked with artists as diverse as bass great John Patitucci, organ legend Dr. Lonnie Smith, MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón, the Brooklyn-bred big band led by composer Darcy James Argue, guitar groove master Charlie Hunter, and pop icon Sting. His discography lists more than 100 album credits as a sideman, with more than a dozen released in 2014 alone, including acclaimed albums by Zenón, drummer Otis Brown III, pianists Helen Sung and Edward Simon, and blues/gospel/soul trio The Holmes Brothers.
His “Canadian Connection”? John has recorded and played with Ingrid Jensen and Seamus Blake.
Four of John’s CDs were recorded in New Orleans.
Tickets for the Saturday Sept 16 Headliner concert: $45 (public), $40 (members) $35 (students)
Sousaphonist Matt Perrine with John Ellis
Below - John Ellis as guest soloist with Snarky Puppy -