A muscular and hard-blowing yet vulnerable tenorist whose influences range from Wayne Shorter to Grover Washington, Jr., Dave Ellis fluctuates between earthy soul-jazz and more intellectual hard bop and post-bop on his debut album, Raven. While the Bay Area native is no innovator, he's a highly enthusiastic and invigorating soloist whose playing has a certain immediacy to it. Raven isn't an outstanding album, but it's a solid, heartfelt and very satisfying one. Whether savoring all things funky on Ronnie Laws' addictive "Always There" or being more cerebral on Jackie McLean's "Little Melonae" and Woody Shaw's "A Rose for Rose," Ellis (who was 28 when this CD was recorded) is consistently confident and soulful.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson