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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ELLIS DELIVERS, 31 Oct 2011
By 
ACB (swansea) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Four Classic Albums (Nothing But The Blues / Herb Ellis Meets Jimmy Giuffre / Ellis In Wonderland / Thank You, Charlie Christian) (Audio CD)
Herb Ellis was described by critic Scott Yanow as "an excellent bop-based guitarist with a slight country source". Not unexpected, perhaps from a Texan? A fan of Charlie Christian, Ellis went on to develop his own style being ever present with Oscar Peterson for five years.
Taken in album order:
NOTHING BUT THE BLUES: With Stan Getz and Ray Brown at their peaks. Ellis is a wonderful catalyst prompting an understanding between the horns (Roy Eldridge, trumpet). Ellis sets the atmospheric tone for the session. Eldridge is superb on the muted 'Tin Roof Blues', 'Blues For Janet' and 'Soft Winds' and are irresistable. Getz adds his stamp to the numbers. Recorded at the time of Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman's recording dates this remains a significant timeless album.
HERB ELLIS MEETS JIMMY GUIFFRE: This is an excellent date. Ellis had worked with him on several occasions. With the exception of 'Remember', Ellis is the only soloist. His melodic threads are fresh and contemporary.The horns (Jimmy Guiffre, Art Pepper, Bud Shank) blow furiously on 'Goose Grease' and provide a background for 'Remember'. Jim Hall (g) and Stan Levey (d) acquit themselves beautifully. Ellis's compositions 'A Country Boy' and 'My Old Flame' are performed in relaxed romantic style. Guiffre was such an easy going (not detrimental to his abilities) person that he allows Ellis the full-front exhibition of his repertoire.
ELLIS IN WONDERLAND: A wonderful group with the Oscar Peterson trio plus Harry Edison, Jimmy Guiffre, Charlie Mariano. Ellis's own bop-based numbers are shown in 'Pogo' and 'Sweetheart Blues'. The accompanists give ample space for Ellis to take drive seat. Guiffre's 'A Simple Tune' adds to the atmosphere.
THANKYOU CHARLIE CHRISTIAN: Ellis was a fervent follower and admirer of Charlie Christian's stlye. 'One string and twangy' was once described. This album is otherwise hard to find and is a delightful tribute provided by Ellis in his own way. 'Thank You Charlie Christian','Cook One' and 'Karin' are fine examples of his artistry.
A welcome release in bargain format by Avid, remastered with liner notes. What more can be said?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ELLIS STRINGS THE BLUES, 5 Aug 2011
By 
Barry McCanna (Normandy, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Four Classic Albums (Nothing But The Blues / Herb Ellis Meets Jimmy Giuffre / Ellis In Wonderland / Thank You, Charlie Christian) (Audio CD)
The earliest of the four albums which make up this compilation is the December 1955/January 1956 "Ellis in Wonderland" on which Herb Ellis was joined by Jimmy Giuffre on tenor, Charlie Mariano on alto, Harry Edison on trumpet, Alvin Stoller on drums, and Oscar Peterson on piano (Ellis was a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio from 1953 to 1958). "Nothing but the Blues" dates from October 1957, with Roy Eldridge on trumpet, Stan Getz on tenor, Ray Brown on bass, and Stan Levey on drums. "Herb Ellis Meets Jimmy Giuffre" dates from March 1959, and also present were Bud Shank & Art Pepper on alto, Richie Kamuca on tenor, Jim Hall supplying rhythm guitar, Joe Mondragon on bass, Stan Levey on drums and Lou Levy on piano. In June 1960 Herb recorded "Thank You, Charlie Christian" with Frank Stazzari on piano, Harry Babasin on cello, Chuck Berghofer on bass, and Kenny Hume on drums.

Herb Ellis has been described as a bop-based guitarist with a slight country twang to his sound. The latter is due to his Texan background, where he would have grown up against a background of Western Swing, but these early recordings also reflect a very blues-inflected approach to the music. He was strongly influenced by the playing of Charlie Christian, but there are echoes of earlier players, Lonnie Johnson being one who springs to mind. He brings a very individual style of single-note playing to these West Coast sessions, of which the Blues album is said to be his favourite. Wonderland is an expanded Peterson outfit, which includes his old campus colleague Jimmy Giuffre, of whom therefore we get a double helping, and why not? All four albums are much sought after, not least "Thank You, Charlie Christian" which, despite the less stellar line-up, is every bit as good.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perennial Herbs in Ellisland, 31 Jan 2012
By 
Bo S. Svensson "music of life" (Lund, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Four Classic Albums (Nothing But The Blues / Herb Ellis Meets Jimmy Giuffre / Ellis In Wonderland / Thank You, Charlie Christian) (Audio CD)
I am pleasantly surprised by these four classic albums, a must for guitarists and music lovers alike. They are recorded between December 1955 and June 1960, the golden fifties of American jazz music, after be bop. The sleeve notes by Nat Hentoff and Herb Ellis himself give you all the relevant inside informations you will possibly need.
After many years neglect I have now discovered Herb Ellis as a wonderful soloist with great musical taste and a wonderful guitar sound, behind his almost anynomous appearance as a loyal part of the Oscar Peterson trio and in Norman Granz' JATP. Harmonically and rhythmically Ellis works in the succession of the founder of modern electric guitar playing, the inimitable young dead swinger Charlie Christian. The rhythmic time and harmonic excellence with which Christian played his notes set him apart from all others. One of the four Albums, "Thank you, Charlie Christian" pays tribute to the young master. In the original sleeve notes written by Ellis he points that out, and also mentions Wes Montgomery as a guitarist in the same tradition. At times Ellis reminds me a little of Montgomery too. In this Album Herb Ellis' Quintet makes use of jazz cello. The timbre of the pizzicato cello blends well with Ellis' guitar picking.
The first Album, "Nothing but the blues", is what it says, classical blues without extras, aided by Ray Brown's magical bass, round, full and steady, and Stan Levey on drums. Roy Eldridge on trumpet and Stan Getz makes it a Quintet. I am especially fond of Getz here, the cool player, but with his roots still in the old school, as well as Ellis, who is doing great work together with his team buddy, Ray Brown.
"Herb Ellis meets Jimmy Guiffre", has Guiffre arranging for a ninepiece band with Bud Shank and Art Pepper on alto,Richie Kamuca and Guiffre on tenor, Jim Hall rhythm guitar besides Ellis, Joe Mondragon on bass and Stan Levey on drums. It is the perhaps most interesting Album of the four. Guiffre had recently listened to Coltrane and Monk and, influenced by them, had started to write music with less economy and more freedom. The four saxes (reminding in sound of Woody Herman's "Four brothers", but with a much more advanced tonality) are used here building sheets of sound around the soloists, in a fascinating way, which makes me think of Gil Evans experiments in sound at the same time.
The cooperation between Ellis and Guiffre went back to their student days in Denton, Texas. "Ellis in Wonderland" is a septet built around the Oscar Peterson trio, with Guiffre, Charlie Mariano and Harry Edison as compliments. Ellis, Peterson, Brown and Stoller are as tight as ever, swinging like mad, and Ellis guitar is agile and swinging. Jimmy Guiffre surprises me with a sound quite close to Stan Getz.
To sum it up, I am impressed by the relaxed easy swing, with a keen interest for the combined handicraft, displaying the musical sense of not showing off in front of the madding crowds, but playing together for the love of it. Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Happy jazz, 6 Dec 2011
This review is from: Four Classic Albums (Nothing But The Blues / Herb Ellis Meets Jimmy Giuffre / Ellis In Wonderland / Thank You, Charlie Christian) (Audio CD)
This is easy swinging jazz from a guitar master who has not always received the recognition he deserves. The first three albums are straight ahead accessible jazz featuring some fine soloing from Getz and Eldridge on Nothing But The Blues and great arranging on Herb Ellis Meets Jimmy Giuffre on which very little is heard from Shank or Pepper as soloists, nor Oscar Peterson on the third album. Music is subjective and I am not so sure about Jimmy Giuffre's saxophone playing on the two albums he's playing on, while his clarinet, I love, is not much heard here. Herb Ellis is the lead soloist on every number and is superb throughout. The final album Thank You Charlie Christian is a jazz oddity including solos on Cello, maybe not as appealing as the first three but enjoyable nevertheless. All in all a great four album compilation showcasing a fine jazz guitarist and giving hours of listening pleasure at an astonishingly low price.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing but the blues and happiness, 1 Mar 2014
By 
Graham Mark Attwell "gray" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Four Classic Albums (Nothing But The Blues / Herb Ellis Meets Jimmy Giuffre / Ellis In Wonderland / Thank You, Charlie Christian) (Audio CD)
Great CD Fourt albums in one compact my favourite being the first one nothing biut the blues a pure gem!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic collection, 9 April 2013
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A fine collection, excellent value. Another set of albums illustrating outstanding jazz playing. Thoroughly recommended and the playing throughout is brilliant. Should be in any collection.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Blues and Jazz all right, 11 Dec 2012
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Herb, a fine cohort of Oscar Peterson, finds himslf in exhalted company here also.All artists coalesce well.Splendid ensemble work;enjoyable eminently enjoyable
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT OVERVIEW, 27 Sep 2011
By 
Mr. Aa James - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Four Classic Albums (Nothing But The Blues / Herb Ellis Meets Jimmy Giuffre / Ellis In Wonderland / Thank You, Charlie Christian) (Audio CD)
THIS IS ANOTHER WORTHWHILE PURCHASE FROM AVID JAZZ .NOTHING BUT THE BLUES
IS THE STAR ALBUM .HERB ELLIS IS AREALLY INVENTIVE BLUES PLAYER ,WITH A GREAT WAY OF BENDING NOTES WITH A SLIGHTLY TWANGY TONE . RECOMMENDED.
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