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Dave Ellis: Raven

Tenor saxophonist Dave Ellis, a mainstay in guitarist Charlie Hunter’s ensemble, steps out on his own date with Hunter, drummer Mike Clark, keyboardist Spencer Allen, bassist Jeff Chambers and other bay-area musicians and delivers a radio-friendly CD that easily bridges several styles and eras of jazz. Ellis’ tenor tone is edgy and uplifting, introspective and outgoing, as evidenced by the ’70s retro-funk of Ronnie Laws’ “Always There,” the straight-ahead readings of Jackie McLean’s “Little Melonae,” Woody Shaw’s “A Rose For Rose,” McCoy Tyner’s “Contemplation,” and Wayne Shorter’s “Toy Tune.” Another Shorter gem, “The Big Push,” is updated with a funk beat, and John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s “Tomorrow Never Knows” changes from pastoral to fusion, to 4/4 swing and showcases Dave Ellis’ open-minded musical vistas.

Originally Published