Donald Johnson Ellis 1934-1978, the Man... his Times and most importantly his Music
is explored in the Feature Length Documentary Film, ELECTRIC HEART -don ellis.
The Story of the one of the most innovative Composer, Arranger, Writer and Musicians'
of all time, Ellis was the first to create a fusion between Jazz-Rock & Classical music.
Pultizer winning Composer Gunther Schuller appears explaining Ellis as the advent of
his own coined phrase "The Third Stream".
Ellis took the genre to greater heights and not even the top 10 in New York City today
can play his music.
Debuting his Orchestra in 1966 at The Monterey Jazz Festival, his "New Horizons" Band
gave a performance that still stands as the greatest in the history of the oldest Jazz Festival. Restored footage with interviews
from the band's members rounds out this segment.
Maynard Ferguson, Jazz Legend explains Ellis as a Composer was never satisfied with
a certain sound and one that was content with "Experimintation before Entertainment."
Born in Los Angeles and raised in Minneapolis, the son of a Minister and Pianist Mother...
he became known with his odd metered arrangements during his College years at Boston University. Schuller (New
England Conservatory President at the time) introduced Ellis to Leonard Bernstein and a National Television audience viewed
Ellis for the first time for The Young People's Concert's in 1964.
Preceding a stint overseas in The Army, Ellis settled in New York City and quickly
became the talk of the town. He had a Trumpet designed by Larry Ramirez (Interviewee) of The Stan Holton Company that had
4valves instead of 3 and was 1/4 tone. This had never been done and became the signature sound of Don Ellis.
Columbia Records signed Ellis for a long stint with Producer John Hammond.
Ellis then moved back to his native LA and during the late 1960's often headlined above
and with Rock Groups such as The Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company. No other Jazz act for the exception
of Miles Davis was marketed in such a way. Ellis and his "Tears of Joy" Band became known throughout the world as some of
the best musicians ever assembled including (interviewed for the film) Milcho Leviev, Fred Selden, Sam Falzone, Jay Graydon and
Ralph Humphrey. Ellis hired singer Patti Allen for his "Don Ellis goes Underground" and was his most commercial hit !
Although nominated several times The Grammy Award elluded him until 1972 when he won
for Best Instrumental Arrangement for the Academy Award Winning Motion Picture "The French Connection" that he scored. Ellis
also composed the music for the sequel Film as well as seven other major Films in his career. Note: The French Connection
Soundtrack was re-released by in 2005.
There was simply nothing like Ellis, not Mingus, not Miles.... and Ellis took Jazz
to greater heights and never bothered to look back. He mixed complex Indian rhythms with his fantastic "Hindustani Sextet",
turned heads at Tanglewood, Concord and Montreux and was generally considered one of the true purist's of this Art form...
Where Ken Burns (Jazz, PBS) stops Filmmaker John Vizzusi's Electric
Heart begins, explaining that Jazz did not not die in the 60's as Burn's defends Miles Davis's
statement, but Vizzusi argues it was actually Jazz's most exciting times!
Ellis died (heart attack) in Los Angeles at the young age of 44.
-Jazz had to Invent a New Term
when it came to Don Ellis-
-The Most Innovative Jazz Musician
of all time
-One of the Greatest Musicians
of the 20th Century, Don Ellis-
-don ellis Credits:
Sights & Sounds Films / Sleepy Night Records 2008
Executive Producer: Anthony Czarnik
Producer: Robert Usher
Associate Producer & Assistant Director: Leah
A Documentary Film by: John Vizzusi
Adapted from a Story by: John Killoch
Narration by: Mary C. Mckitrick
Additional Camera: Pat Doran
Editor: Bonnie Schandling
Music by: Don Ellis
Additional Music: Milcho Leviev, Sam Falzone & FREEBOP
Research: John Kiloch (UK), Paul Karting (Netherlands),
Ken Orton (France), Fred Selden (USA), & Emilie Robertson (UCLA)
Featuring the late Jazz Legend Maynard Ferguson,
Jazz Pianist Milcho Leviev and many stars of Contemporay Jazz with a very rare and Special appearance by Pulitizer Winning Composer Gunther Schuller
Locations: Los Angeles, Ojai, Minneapolis, Buffalo,
Elkhorn WS, Boston, Philadelphia & Miami
Public Relations: B. Schandling (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Official Website: www.DonEllisFilm.com
Sights & Sounds Films / The Don Ellis Story
1409 Oak Place ste#K
Apopka, Florida 32712-2084
USA Ellis Film Hotline: 407-310-2774