Herb Ellis

An Evening with Herb Ellis

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Herb Ellis sets a concert stage afire with his masterful technique, sharpened during a long stretch as a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio during the 1950s. For this 1995 performance at Western Washington University, he's accompanied by pianist Bill MacDonough (a university alum), bassist Chuck Israels (a faculty member and ex-Bill Evans sideman), and Canadian drummer John Nolan, who worked with Ellis on other recordings. From listening to this show, it's hard not to think this is a working group, aside from an unsteady ending to a piece or two. The highlight of the date is easily the extended workout of "Things Ain't What They Used to Be," where Ellis really shows off his chops. His simmering take of "Billie's Bounce" never boils over, while Ellis displays his lyricism in a gorgeous rendition of "Body and Soul," even if he can't resist inserting a few humorous quotes.

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