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By A Thread by John Ellis

Leaving his post as tenor saxophonist with the Charlie Hunter trio, song writer John Ellis steps out with his distinctive voice following his hit, One Foot In the Swamp. Moving away from the New Orleans groove. Ellis' new CD, By A Thread adds complicated layers, creating an album appealing to all music lovers.

Blowing hot soprano sax, Ellis opens the album with "Ferris Wheel" just before Mike Moreno steps in for a scathing guitar blitz. Reuben Rogers holds a steady, stealthy, backbeat on bass as the group displays its ability to plunge deep into rhythmic mixes.

"Tall Drink of Water" gently begins with a deep, rich; tenor sax accompanied by a thick, heavy, bass. Slowly expanding into full percussive beat as Gully performs a solo spot before returning to the mix. "Little Giggles" follows with a heavy, up front--down close bass resonating through a solo until joined gently by Goldberg's deliberate processions on keyboard. At just the right moment, Ellis again sets the mood with a smoky sax.

Sounding flute-like, Ellis opens:"Old Man" with an ocarina, slowly building note upon note to a trill, before going deeper octave, as Goldberg brings a rhythmic keyboard into play, escalating the urgency of delivery. Just as "Old Man" builds, it begins a decent to a softer, mellower finish.

Ellis switches to bass clarinet for "Wishing Well" which allows each instrument to tell its' own story. Solos mixed with textured interactions keeps this tune interesting. Each instrument is felt.

"Lonnie" has elements of bop and funk. While independent notes share center stage, the backbeat holds a certain quality of sanctioned funk-shun. "Umpty Eleven" is a mysterious midnight groove with smooth moves and deep, electrifying tones.

Shuffling on to "Swirl" in a dreamy state of mind, Goldberg gently leads rapturously, fluttering along the keyboard, joined by Ellis' expansion on sax. Exploring each string on guitar, Moreno keeps perfect accompaniment, then leads out, in a still gentle groove before the group brings the album to a close in a funky rhythm with "Moore's Alphabet", written for stellar drummer, Stanton Moore. Heavy on bass, light on horn, this tune leaves the listener with a kicky feeling of funk.

Ellis is definitely ‘out of the swamp’ with this recording, recorded at the Knitting Factory’s Tap Bar.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: John Ellis
  • CD Title: By A Thread
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Hyena Records
  • Musicians: Aaron Goldberg (piano), Mike Moreno (guitar), Reuben Rogers (bass), Terreon Gully (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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