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Ellis, Pee Wee: Tenoration

There have been some excellent jazz recordings released so far in 2011 and the new album Tenoration by Pee Wee Ellis is no exception. Pee Wee is a stellar musician who has been involved with music from a very young age, learning to play the piano before specializing in the saxophone. He has worked with the likes of James Brown, Van Morrison and George Benson to name but a few. His specialty is funk and jazz and has even been called "The man who invented funk."

This double album set pays homage to both genres with the first CD delving into the funkier side of things while the second explores more jazzier territory. Ellis's sax work plays a huge part in this recording as it is both complex and melodic. It is the centerpiece of the CD but like all good jazz albums every musician plays their role well.

On CD 1 simply titled from jazz too funk…, Ellis develops some wonderful funky jams like the irresistible groove in "Slanky P" with its ripping sax runs and muted guitar chords. This is jazzy funk done right and Tony Remy's guitar downright sings near the end with some fabulous note bending. In the uplifting "Gittin' A Little Hipper" the sax has a calming effect along with the solid keyboard backdrop. In "Bon Bonn" the sound is as smooth as silk with bubbly electric piano, melodic sax and clean lead guitar. For instrumental virtuosity check out the ten minute epic "Sticks" where sax, electric piano and drums are given ample room for soloing. The CD ends on a romantic note with the ballad "At Last" showcasing the sentimental side of Ellis's saxophone.

On the second disc, keyboards are replaced with grand piano and the guitar is absent. The songs are deeply rooted in melodic jazz and the musicianship is equally as good. The CD starts with "You've Changed" and its wonderfully sentimental sax and piano reminding me of those jazz standards from a bygone era. In the upbeat "Sticks" the bass and piano are really amped up making for some exciting instrumental interplay.

My favourite has to be "Sonnymoon For Two", a song that showcases just how talented these musicians are. The stop/starts between bass and drums is absolutely riveting, eventually softened with melodic sax and piano.

So there you have it. A terrific blending of melodic jazz and funk that will surely satisfy fans of both genres.

Track Listing:
CD 1
1. Slanky P (7:13)
2. Gittin' A Little Hipper (2:59)
3. Bon Bonn (6:59)
4. Sticks (10:41)
5. Zig Zag (6:57)
6. At last (6:04)
CD 2
1. You've Changed (4:27)
2. Sticks (4:08)
3. Parlayin' (4:27)
4. Sonnymoon For Two (8:33)
5. Now Go On (5:57)
6. Freedom Jazz Dance (4:47)

Added: May 1st 2011
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's MySpace Page
Hits: 1880
Language: english

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