“Ask Me Now” by Thelonious Monk

I’ve loved this tune for as long as I can remember. Yasushi and I played this one as a duo at the beginning of the day, just as a soundcheck. Enjoy!

John Ellis – saxophone
Yasushi Nakamura – bass

Recorded and mixed by Michael Perez-Cisneros at The Big Orange Sheep. As of yet, unmastered

“The Last Drop” by John Ellis

I made up a game for this session to try to write tunes with only chord changes, so in other words – no written melodies. I sketched out three of these the morning of the recording before I left for the studio. This one was originally just called, “Number One”. The idea was to try and figure out the right arrangement on the spot and also to improvise a melody. I’ve always loved these kinds of tunes with passing diminished chords. My old friend and frequent collaborator, Jason Marsalis, happened to be in town and just called to check in. Of course I had to ask him to be involved in this ongoing recording project I’ve been doing. I also called the great Yasushi Nakamura to play bass with us. Yasushi played in my trio when I toured in Japan in June of 2016, and we had a blast. As always, thanks for listening.

John Ellis – tenor saxophone
Jason Marsalis – drums
Yasushi Nakamura- bass

Recorded and mixed by Michael Perez-Cisneros at The Big Orange Sheep. As of yet, unmastered

I have to be honest. I was reluctant to make one of these videos. Something about teaching to a camera seemed so unnatural and frankly, kind of terrifying. But after a few years of soul searching, I relented. I’m glad I did. There are quite a few concepts and ideas in here that have helped me tremendously over the years. Please check it out here, and if you like it, spread the word!

I’m happy to be bringing my band back to Smalls this weekend. We play two sets starting at 7:30, and the band will feature Aaron Golberg – piano, Joe Martin – bass, and Obed Calvaire – drums

Info for the 19th here, and for the 20th here

For those who can’t be with us live in NYC, the show will be live streamed via SmallsLive

When The World Was Young by Philippe-Gérard and Johnny Mercer

We feature Madison Rast playing the melody on this one, as you’ll hear. I wasn’t too familiar with this song, but Madison brought it in for the session, and I think it worked really well in combination with all the other songs we played. Sometimes just playing the melody feels like enough.

Also, this is the last song from this particular session with Madison and Anwar. But we have quite a few alternate versions of these tunes that I’m planning to share, as well. 

More soon, and as always thanks for listening.

John Ellis – tenor saxophone 
Madison Rast – bass 
Anwar Marshall – drums 

Recorded and mixed by Michael Perez-Cisneros at The Big Orange Sheep 
as of yet, unmastered

Goodbye by Gordon Jenkins

Benny Goodman popularized this song as a closer for his concerts and radio broadcasts. I first heard it on the Cannonball and Bill Evans record, “Know What I mean?” Apparently Jenkins composed this song after his first wife died in childbirth, which would explain why it’s so heartbreaking. I have a friend that calls these kinds of tunes “lying on the floor” songs. Listen to Frank Sinatra’s version, and you’ll definitely feel like lying on the floor.

John Ellis – tenor saxophone 
Madison Rast – bass 
Anwar Marshall – drums 

Recorded and mixed by Michael Perez-Cisneros at The Big Orange Sheep 
as of yet, unmastered

Star Eyes – composed by Gene de Paul and Don Raye

I just watched the clip from “I Dood It”, where Bob Elberly and Helen O’Connell sing this with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. I had never seen it before. I love the fact that sharing these tracks is inspiring me to do more research. 

Like the first three songs I shared, this one again features Madison and Anwar, and was recorded last August at The Big Orange Sheep in Brooklyn. We were experimenting with having everyone in the same room for this session. The huge upside is not wearing headphones. It’s sometimes hard to hear the bass, though. 

I’m grateful to all of you for listening. Thank you.

Why do we pronounce this like Soul Are instead of like Solar (rhymes with molar)?  

composed by Miles Davis (although some say not) 
arranged by John Ellis (if you can call it that)

John Ellis – tenor saxophone 
Madison Rast – bass 
Anwar Marshall – drums 

Recorded and mixed by Michael Perez-Cisneros at The Big Orange Sheep 
as of yet, unmastered

And we’re playing tonight at 9pm (two sets) at Bar Lunatico in Brooklyn!

Share #2

I’m sharing another song via bandcamp today.

Lots more coming.

Here’s our version of “How High The Moon” featuring Madison Rast and Anwar Marshall.