Seger Ellis

Jazz in a Sentimental Mood

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Although the audience for crooners was quite large in the late '20s and early '30s, it apparently didn't have much room for Seger Ellis. Despite recording dozens of excellent ballads, often accompanied by his piano as well as musicians, including Louis Armstrong, Eddie Lang, and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Ellis wasn't very popular and, as a performer, faded quickly (he later gained more fame as a composer). The ToM label, always one to resurrect a neglected classic jazz figure, illustrates with its Jazz in a Sentimental Mood volume just how tragic it was that Ellis wasn't given more feature material. Seger Ellis' was the highest of male altos, a voice that crooned sweetly and warmly on "Under a Texas Moon," a quiet hymn to his birthplace, or "Sweet Sue, Just You," in a version that Ellis makes good use of space as well as his sly piano accompaniment. As is usual on lengthy volumes of a single classic jazz artist, not all the material pans out. Still, Ellis was a good judge of songwriting that would suit his plaintive powers, as on "Mean to Me," "Ain't Misbehavin'," and "Lover Come Back to Me."

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