© Copyright ® Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.
When I began the blog, my intent was to post in-depth profiles of Jazz musicians and extensive pieces about a variety of Jazz topics.
The process involved with developing lengthy profiles and pieces often required that they be posted in segments or parts.
From time-to-time, I collect these individual posts and group them into complete or all-in-one-place features, such as this one.
When combined into one profile, these complete posts offer the reader a greater continuity about the topic and also make for more helpful archiving.
They also make for very long reads so be patient!
The Evolution of the Don Ellis Orchestra - Part 1
Then comes one of the album's most complex pieces, 'Bulgarian Bulge', a traditional Eastern European folk dance transfigured into a jaunty big band showcase piece (a live version of the track appeared on Ellis's 1971 Columbia LP, ‘Tears Of Joy'). The provenance of the tune stems from a recording of Bulgarian folk musicians that Ellis was sent by Plovdiv-born jazz musician, Milcho Leviev. who ended up defecting from his then communist mother country in 1970 to move to Los Angeles where he was promptly given a job in the trumpeter's band. Interestingly, Ellis - who often verbally introduced each song on stage prior to performing it - described it at one of his late-'60s US gigs thus: "it's a Bulgarian folk song which was sort of smuggled out of the country by a friend of mine who's a Bulgarian jazz composer and pianist. This is like an ethnic record that you can't buy anywhere outside of the Iron Curtain. He sent it to me and it just completely blew my mind."
The Evolution of the Don Ellis Orchestra - Part 3
"The fast 11/4 section is a G dorian blues and the rhythm section really got it on. The basic theme is built in fourths and the second theme is the Get It Together theme, which I intend to put words to someday."
In addition to being an intellectual conceptualist, lecturer, writer, composer and arranger, Don Ellis was first and foremost a brass freak. In 1966 he commissioned a quarter-tone trumpet (featuring an additional fourth valve), because he considered the equal temperament twelve-note scale to be arbitrarily limiting. With his special trumpet he could not only fit "24 equal notes to the octave, but I could also, with a slight adjustment of my lips, get almost any interval that I would want," - a technique particularly well illustrated in The Squeeze (on Pieces Of Eight).