‘I still cry’: Powerful Rochester mural captures what was lost in anti-urban destruction
In July 1973 ESTHER PHILLIPS recorded the album BLACK-EYED BLUES, at the legendary Rudy Van Gelder Studio in New Jersey. PEE WEE arranged and conducted the album, also playing alto sax on the title track. This was the third of seven records Esther and Pee Wee made together in the 1970’s, (five at KUDU/CTI, two at Mercury Records). Three of these albums were nominated for Grammy Awards. He was also Musical Director of her band, who toured widely in America and Europe, including an appearance at Montreux Jazz Festival in 1978. Pee Wee greatly admired not only Esther‘s artistry, but also her tenacity in sustaining a musical career through many setbacks.
During June of 1967 The James Brown Show appeared at the Apollo Theater in Harlem for 10 days, playing 6 shows a day to sell-out audiences who had lined up on 125th Street and around the block for hours to see the hottest band in America.
The resulting record,“Live at the Apollo II“, broke all preconceptions about live albums when it was released in 1968, as a follow-up to the seminal 1963 recording „Live At The Apollo“. The Deluxe Edition “Live at the Apollo II“ released in 2001 by Universal Records contains extended material and great liner notes by Alan Leeds.
In 1967 Pee Wee, at the tender age of 26, was already Music Director, also playing alto sax and organ and co-writing and arranging for the James Brown Band. At that time the band would play a jazz set before Mr. Brown came on stage: here is a clip of Pee Wee strutting his stuff with an alto solo on Lee Morgan’s jazz standard “The Sidewinder“ at the Olympia in Paris the same year.
We would like to share this gorgeous article from December 23, 2021, published by The New York Times.
On the day of Pee Wee’s funeral in Rochester NY (Nov. 10, 2021), it’s a pleasure to share this message from Pee Wee’s mentor and dear friend Sonny Rollins.
The great Pee Wee Ellis has gone to a better place. I will miss him enormously. He and his lovely wife always visited with me when they came to the States. He always referred to himself as my student, and I felt great hearing him say that because he was one of our best players. “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud” came from Pee Wee, as he led James Brown’s band into their ultra-baaad music. See you later, man. – Sonny
Source: Mr. George Benson’s Facebook Post from October 2, 2021.
The name Pee Wee suggest small, but there was nothing small about Pee Wee Ellis. His talent was immense. For example, he co-wrote and arranged James Brown‘s “Papa’s Gotta A Brand New Bag.” From there, every thought and rhythm arrangement was his idea. In 1973 we recorded and wrote the song “Dance” for my BODY TALK record. I learned some lessons from him that are still with me today. His powerhouse approach to music will continue to energize the music industry forevermore. We remained good friends from the beginning of his days with James Brown until his passing. He will be missed.
This livestream was aired on 13th Jan 2021 on M-XCLOUD. It focuses on the many musical facets of Pee Wee Ellis‘ career, from early recordings in 1963 right up to today. A very personal tribute from The Soul Preacher who has been collecting the music of Mr. Ellis in its immense variety for almost 40 years now. This tribute was impromptu and a labor of love, as is the official website of the legendary saxophonist:
I‘m sharing this program with the very important approval of Pee Wee Ellis, who also was listening live.
We hope you‘ll enjoy this musical trip!
photo & illustration: Pee Wee Ellis by The Soul Preacher
The transatlantic magazine THE AMERICAN was established in 1976. The current issue (July-August 2020) features an interview with legendary saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis. (pages 42 to 44). You can read the article in The American’s digital edition which is here.
Martin Chilton from The INDEPENDENT interviewed Pee Wee Ellis (June 2020).
You can find the very interesting article is here.
A few words from Pee Wee and friends to brighten up another locked-down day. Enjoy the music and don’t forget all the musicians who can’t work for the foreseeable future by making a donation, if you can, to:
Jazz Foundation of America:
This video is about the recording period of Pee Wee Ellis during the 1970’s in New York. After he had left James Brown and before he joined Van Morrison. You will be introduced to the albums of Pee Wee Ellis with Esther Phillips, George Benson, Sonny Stitt, Brother Jack McDuff, The Blues Magoos and many more. Also an album from Pee Wee’s own label SMOKE HOUSE RECORDS was added to this movie. The film was produced one year ago when Pee Wee Ellis & Ian Shaw talked about this interesting period at the BLUES & JAZZ FESTIVAL in Bristol, in March 2019. For the first time we now bring this video to the public. Enjoy!
at Sage Gateshead, UK. March 4, 2020 … cool!
Pee Wee Ellis speaks about joining the James Brown Band and introduces his new project FUNK: A MUSIC REVOLUTION
To listen to the interview please go to time point 01:09:08 after following this link to BBC SOUNDS.
Please don’t miss to check the tour dates.
For watching the video and reading the article please follow this link.
Please check the updated tour dates!
Led by James Brown’s MD, renowned saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis and co-curated with singer China Moses, FUNK: A MUSIC REVOLUTION celebrates funk’s influence from its early days to latest sounds.
“From 1967 when Mr. Brown and I wrote “Cold Sweat” until today, Funk has been woven into the DNA of popular music. We want to tell that story.” – Pee Wee Ellis
Featuring groundbreaking songs Cold Sweat and Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud, the ten-piece band journey through six decades of music. Hear new arrangements of the funk classics, riffs and samples that have influenced popular music from disco to afrobeat to hip hop. UK street dance group The Locksmiths
join the stage.
BAND LEADER, MD, sax – Pee Wee Ellis
VOCALS – China Moses with special guest OMAR MBE
GUITAR – Tony Remy
HORNS – Camilla George – sax, Dennis Rollins MBE – trombone
KEYS – Dan Moore
BASS – Neville Malcolm
DRUMS – Daru Jones
RAPPER – Lady Sanity
The Locksmiths dance co
Produced by Sound UK
December 3, on air in a short while (around 2 pm)
We are on air in less than an hour. Also check the radio’s archive in case you can’t listen live:
Link to the radio station.
The interview is archived here.
December 3, 2019
From 8.25 to 9 am
at moma zdf (Morgenmagazin)
You can stream the show here:
Also the appearance will be archived on the TV channel’s website for a short while.
Please also stay tuned for a radio feature on DeutschlandfunkKultur/RIAS
Foto: Heinrich Buttler
🌟 5000 people came around 🌟
As part of the 60th-anniversary celebrations, the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club threw a Street Party on Saturday 20th July, 2019.
The Pee Wee Ellis Assembly performed in front of this wonderful crowd. You can read the full article on London JazzNews here.
Photo: Tony Remy
🌟We’re having a party, and you’re invited!🌟
As part of our 60th-anniversary celebrations, we’re holding a Street Party on Saturday 20th July from 12pm-6pm. It’s free entry and we have a fantastic line-up of artists, with Pee Wee Ellis Funk Assembly, Nubya Garcia, Eliane & La Evolucion and a special performance by Kinetika Bloco too.
Food comes from our neighbours Hoppers London,
Bar Italia and we’ll have bars from Moët & Chandon, Sipsmith Gin, Franklin & Sons and more! For the kids (or big kids) we’ve got face painting, balloon modelling, and a bubble show! Find out more here 👉 bit.ly/2Rm8Nwk
We’re delighted to be working with Time Out London as our media partner on this event.
Artwork: Foxcub Studio
To read the full article please follow this link to GO LONDON.
Tickets will go on general sale at 10.30am on Friday 7 June.
The ticket booth of the Royal Albert Hall is here.
On this week’s Ronnie Scott’s Radio Show, we’re giving you the chance to hear part two of a programme featuring Pee Wee Ellis in conversation with Ian Shaw, which we recorded as part of the Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival at the Pegg Theatre on the Campus of Bristol University.
This is a fascinating insight into the life of a true living legend, and focuses on the post James Brown era of Pee Wee’s career, and we think you’ll love it.
Photo: Pee Wee Ellis (Official) Facebook.
This programme was first heard on Jazz FM London on May 10th 2019.
May 11, 2019. The Ronnie Scott’s Radio Show writes:
On this week’s Ronnie Scott’s Radio Show, we’re giving you the chance to hear part one of a programme featuring Pee Wee Ellis in conversation with Ian Shaw, which we recorded as part of the Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival at the Pegg Theatre on the Campus of Bristol University.
This is a fascinating insight into the life of a true living legend, and focuses on the post James Brown era of Pee Wee’s career, and you can hear part two next week.
Photo: Pee Wee Ellis (Official) Facebook.
This programme was first heard on Jazz FM London on May 10th 2019.
Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London.
Thursday 31st January 2019, 6:00pm – 8:00pm
To confirm your attendance at the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz 60 launch party, please RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
July 2018: Pee Wee Ellis just wrote the horn arrangements for the new album THESE DAYS by Paul Carrack. Pee Wee also plays the tenor saxophone and Gary Winters (trumpet) with Dennis Rollins (trombone) complete the horn section. Paul Carrack’s CD is supposed to be released by November 2018. Pee Wee plays on IN THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY; THESE DAYS & PERFECT STORM.
For the PAUL CARRACK THESE DAYS 2019 TOUR please visit his website.
Pee Wee Ellis: “I‘d like to thank Stephan Meyner for thinking of doing this program with me and providing the platform for me to do this tribute to Duke Ellington, and Danny for his wonderful support and imagination. I‘d like to thank my wife Charlotte for doing all the logistics for me to be able to just think about playing the music.”
Pee Wee Ellis (ts), Danny Grissett (p).
Album is out since February, 2018.
Minor Music 801151. (For more details please visit the Shop)
February 14 to 16, 2018: The Porgy & Bess Jazz Club in Vienna (Austria) featured Pee Wee Ellis on three nights. On the first night it was Pee Wee Ellis with his Funk Assembly, the second night was dedicated to the great composers of Jazz and on the third night Pee Wee shared the stage with the BIG.MDW.BAND under the direction of Markus Geiselhart.
February 14: Pee Wee Ellis (ts), Gary Winters (tp), Tony Remy (g), Jason Rebello (p), Snow Owl (b), Guido May (dr)
February 15: 1st set: Pee Wee Ellis (ts) & Jason Rebello (p) Play Ellington • 2nd set: Pee Wee Ellis (ts), Alec Dankworth (b), Guido may (dr)
February 16: Pee Wee Ellis & BIG.MDW.BAND conducted by Markus Geiselhart • “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” • Pee Wee Ellis (ts), The BIG.MDW.BAND are: Markus Geiselhart (conductor), Paul Gritsch, Matthias Meister, Marc Hainzer, Eduard Bürstmayr, Florian Bauer: REEDS; Alex Valdés, Hermann Fiechtl, Manuel Prinz, Reinhold Gansch: TRUMPETS; Matthias Zeindlhofer, Markus Nentwich, Ferdinand Silberg: TROMBONES; Tobias Golser: TUBA; Manuel Schuster: GUITAR; Sebastian Schneider: PIANO; Julia Hofer: BASS; Michael Blassnig: DRUMS.
In advance of the three nights W24 produced this video. We have shared the clip from their official website, which is here.