Jazz Gallery
Soul / Gospel & World gallery
Essential Listening
Gig Guide / News
Opinion / Music Talk
The Hi Fi Experience
Related services
Related Sites & Info
Staff Profiles
Guest Feedback
Contact M V Studio
Back to Home Page




Click to return to the tributes main page

Pee Wee Ellis
Click to return to the tributes main page

Click an image to return to the tributes main page.
Click here to see Pee Wee Ellis @ Still Black Still Proud. An African Tribute to James Brown, 2008...

21 April 1921 – 24 September 2021

Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis has died at the age of 80 years old.

Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis was born to play music. In Texas Pee Wee got to see blues greats like Bobby "Blue" Bland and Fats Domino. With clarinet and sax lessons in school, he was skilled on reeds as well as piano when his family moved to Rochester, New York at age 16.

In Rochester he met Sonny Rollins, who agreed to give him lessons.

Ellis joined James Brown in 1965 and soon came up with the first pure hardcore Funk hit, Cold Sweat, followed by 26 others that defined what we think of as Funk to this day. Ellis has been called The Man Who Invented Funk.

Ellis’ effect on music was huge, leading directly to George Clinton, Sly Stone and, in a circular twist, Miles Davis’ 70’s work.

By 1970 Ellis worked as arranger and musical director for CTI-Kudu records, the most popular jazz label of the 70s. He worked with Esther Phillips as well as George Benson, Hank Crawford and dozens of other CTI artists.

In 1979 Van Morrison asked Ellis to do arrangements for his Into The Music album, an association that lasted for six years and five albums then was repeated for another five years and five more albums in the last half of the 90’s.
In between, a reunited JB Horns – Ellis, Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker - made several albums and toured extensively.

Meanwhile, Ellis had found world music, or it had found him. He contributed arrangements for Malian singer Oumou Sangare’s album Worotan also for Senegalese singer Cheikh Lô. That led to arranging and playing for two Cuban legends: Cachaito and Miguel ŒAnga’ Diaz. He continues to arrange for World Circuit Records, including work on Ali Farka Toure's last album, Savane. Also on Cheikh Lô’s latest and funkiest CD “Lampfall”.

The Pee Wee Ellis Assembly regularly tours and he has worked with UK jazz singing sensation Clare Teal. In 2005 he visited Japan with the Cuban pianist Omar Sosa and in 2006 they played together again, in South Africa and at Yoshi¹s in Oakland.

Click to return to the tributes main page


Pee Wee Ellis - A New Shift



Click Pee Wee Ellis' image below to see him at Still Black Still Proud. An African Tribute to James Brown, 2008...

Pee Wee Ellis, Still Black Still Proud. An African Tribute to James Brown Club, 2013 (Click to go to the page)

  Go back to the tributes main page.

[ Top ]