John Ellis: New Album/Tour


John Ellis
Brooklyn saxophonist John Ellis is gearing up for a busy 2010. On February 23, ObliqSound will release Puppet Mischief, the second album with his New Orleans-based band Double Wide, which in addition to Ellis features Brian Coogan on organ, Matt Perrine on sousaphone and Jason Marsalis on drums, plus special guests Gregoire Maret on harmonica and Alan Ferber on trombone.

The recording continues the former New Orleanian's love affair with the Big Easy, drawing inspiration from the rich vein of music the city has given the world, while also taking cues, in Ellis' own words, from "carnivals, state fairs, children laughing, clowns and dancing."

The highlights of Puppet Mischief begin from its very first funky moments. The lead off track, "Okra & Tomatoes," takes its title from a phrase that represents life's perfect pairings. That's followed by "Fauxfessor," a tightly synced, off-kilter New Orleans romp full of surprising twists. The elegiac "Dewey Dah" displays each instrument's individual colorings, particularly Perrine's sousaphone, and reaffirms Ellis' penchant for compositions that are never static, always morphing.

Among the album's other standouts are the wild, teasing title track, featuring a stunning harmonica solo by Maret, and the back-to-back "Carousel" and "Dubinland Carnival." The former, which Ellis calls a "wistful circus tune," takes on a bluesy patina and incorporates several dramatic transitions, while its companion piece, which Ellis likens to the feel of a Fellini film, features an epic sax-trombone conversation and some of Marsalis' most fired-up drumming of the set. "Chorale" speaks for itself - written originally with a string quartet in mind, it instead became a beautiful showcase for the four horns. "Héroes de Acción" is Ellis' idea of soundtrack music for a Spanish cartoon crime-fighting hero while the album's closing track, "This Too Shall Pass," is the perfect sendoff; a calming, almost whimsical paean to the acceptance of flux as the one constant in life.

The release of Puppet Mischief follows up one of the busiest years in Ellis' career, one that saw him accompanying a diverse array of musicians ranging from Sting to Mos Def to the Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa, touring Europe with the John Patitucci Trio and, most significantly, the debut of The Ice Siren, Ellis' hour-long through-composed narrative composition for string quartet, tuba, percussion, guitar, vibes, winds and two singers. The piece, a collaborative effort with playwright Andy Bragen, debuted at New York City's Jazz Gallery in May 2009.

John Ellis Tour Dates
01/08/10 Fri Sullivan Hall New York, NY
01/09/10 Sat NuBlu New York, NY
01/20/10 Wed Snug Harbor New Orleans, LA
01/27/10 Wed Snug Harbor New Orleans, LA
03/01/10 Mon The 8X10 Baltimore, MD
03/02/10 Tue World Cafe Live Philadelphia, PA
03/03/10 Wed The Beehive Boston, MA
03/04/10 Thu Red Square Albany, NY
03/05/10 Fri The Jazz Gallery New York, NY
03/06/10 Sat The Jazz Gallery New York, NY
04/28/10 Wed Jazz at the Bistro St. Louis, MO
04/29/10 Thu Jazz at the Bistro St. Louis, MO
04/30/10 Fri Jazz at the Bistro St. Louis, MO
05/01/10 Sat Jazz at the Bistro St. Louis, MO

[Published on: 1/8/10]

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