Herb Ellis was another West Coast guitarist who came to prominence playing with The Oscar Peterson Trio in the 1950’s. It was a controversial setting, because Herb was white and both Peterson and bassist Ray Brown were black at a time when racism was still an issue. The trio were the “house band” for Verve Records, backing Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, and others. With Buddy Rich, they played on the comeback albums of the duet of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Later, along with guitarists Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel, and Charlie Byrd, he formed the “Great Guitars” ensemble. The cover art for his 1988 album Doggin’ Around with bassist Red Mitchell was drawn by none other than Gary Larson, of “The Far Side” fame. Herb paid him in guitar lessons.
Our first song is “It Could Happen To You,” which he recorded with Harry “Sweets” Edison on trumpet, Jimmy Giuffre on saxophone and clarinets, Oscar Peterson on piano, Ray Brown on bass, and Alvin Stoller on drums. It’s from his 1956 album Ellis In Wonderland.
For the second song, Barney Kessel joins him on this live recording of “Lady Be Good.”
Back again next week with another jazz guitar great. That’s your Two for Tuesday, November 18, 2014.