Dave Ellis

In the Long Run

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Dave Ellis' more intellectual side wins out on his second album, In the Long Run, which was produced by veteran Orrin Keepnews. The Bay Area saxman's debut album, Raven, had its share of groove-oriented soul-jazz, but on this sophomore effort, he stays away from R&B-influenced material and sticks to the acoustic and straight-ahead. Having worked with Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Sonny Rollins and countless other jazz greats, Keepnews had quite a track record when it came to producing jazz, and he helps Ellis deliver a solid collection of hard bop and modal post-bop. Under Keepnews' supervision, Ellis tackles Duke Ellington's "Just Squeeze" and Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Dream" with warm and honest results. Another high point of the CD (which employs such notables as drummer Al "Tootie" Heath, flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny and pianist Eric Reed) is Joe Henderson's "Black Narcissus," a modal jewel that Henderson unveiled on a Keepnews-produced session in 1969. Although "Black Narcissus" had been recorded by Frank Morgan, Cal Tjader, Ambiance, Flora Purim and others, it never became the standard it deserved to be. But Ellis recognizes the song's greatness, and his appealing version slows it down to the point that it becomes a ballad. Like Raven, In the Long Run isn't exceptional, but is enjoyable and stimulating.

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