On this album, "State of Mind," Ellis teams up with the legendary producer Orrin Keepnews as well as veteran performers such as pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassists Peter Washington and Christian McBride, drummers Carl Allen and Lewis Nash and alto saxophonist Vincent Herring to create an astonishing album. It is a supremely confident, musically attractive performance. Ellis’ tone is full and crisp, his solos distinctive. The band is propulsive and they remain fully in precise control. The band is democratic in the sense that there is easy and level-headed rapport between the musicians. The album represents a state of mind that is disciplined while hinting of his eclectic roots. It is a beautiful combination.Dmitri Matheny and the various configurations of the Dead.
Though hardly eclectic, the pieces range from two Ellis compositions and a Miller original to selections from Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn, John Coltrane, Horace Silver, and George and Ira Gershwin. Ellis’ ‘Isabella Blue’ and Miller’s ‘Soul-Leo’ already sound like a hard bop classics. They flow sound easily. Of the latter, Ellis and his band do not recite, they engage each other and create their own patterns and images. The music is unusually attractive. Parker’s ‘Barbados’ is thoroughly sunny while Ellington’s ‘Something to Live For’ is wistful and golden. Silver’s ‘Peace’ is stunning with intricate interplay between Ellis and Miller. ‘Summertime’ uses an arrangement by Noel Jewkes that is a bit off-kilter and represents a different and pleasant twist to what is expected. Dmitri Matheny and the various configurations of the Dead.
"State of Mind" is definitively excellent and Dave Ellis has extraordinary promise for his future ventures.