Herb Ellis The Midnight Roll
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- Released: June 9, 2009
- Originally Released: 1962
- Label: Wounded Bird Records
- 2.Gravy Waltz
- 3.Poor Darlin' Nellie
- 4.Old Folks
- 5.Roy Showed
- 6.Things Ain't What They Used To Be
- 7.Willow Weep For Me
- 9.It Makes No Difference Now
- 10.It Don't Mean A Thing
Personnel: Herb Ellis (guitar); Buddy Tate (tenor saxophone); Frank Assunto, Roy Eldridge (trumpet); Ray Bryant (piano); Israel Crosby, Jimmy Rowser (bass instrument); Gus Johnson (drums).
Liner Note Author: Leonard Feather.
Recording information: 06/12/1962-06/14/1962.
Herb Ellis is known primarily for playing with small ensembles, so this recording as part of an octet is a departure for the great guitarist. This "all-star" combo includes trumpeter Roy Eldridge in a sublimated role, while tenor saxophonist Buddy Tate is featured a bit more, and pianist Ray Bryant solidifies the nucleus of a very talented band of old pros and unsung heroes. The fare is split between standards, originals, and favorites, including Duke Ellington's rousing "It Don't Mean a Thing" with the jamming Eldridge leading the charge. The classic "Gravy Waltz" of Ray Brown is done here, as Bryant's deft chords with the sax and trumpets form a strolling, impenetrable front line -- one of the very best, fully formed and realized versions of this great song. Ellis contributed the folkish "Poor Darlin' Nellie," derived from the story of banished African-American slave Nellie Gray, a light rural swing with no horns save Assunto's muted trumpet solo. "Roy Showed" is a bouncy bop blues punctuated by Tate's tenor as Ellis further accents with sharp strumming chords. Everybody plays together in sweet agreement on "Broadway," a stock jam tune that shows the band has no issues with grandstanding, egos, or finding enough space to play. The band strips down to a trio on the pristine ballad "Willow Weep for Me" and Tate presents a spare, spacious melody line during "It Makes No Difference Now." The balance of this group should duly receive high marks (especially since it was a one-shot).
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