Don Ellis Memorial Library Dedication

Conveyed by Scott Harris
Reprinted from Eastfield Era,
Volume 11, Number 18.
May 4, 1981

Eastfield Concert to Honor Jazz Musician

by Lori Antoine

The Eastfield Jazz Ensemble has spent years performing for students and the outside community. They have entertained millions with formal evening concerts, casual courtyard shows, jazz clinics, and jazz festivals. On May 7, they'll entertain again -only this time with a distinctly unique twist.

The Ensemble has been working long and hard to make a dedication concert, in memory of nationally-known trumpetist Don Ellis, a big success. The program will feature the extraordinary compositions of the late musician/composer. Eastfield recently received the massive donation of Ellis' materials, worth approximately $50,000 to be housed in room L-2l6.

Dr. & Mrs. Ellis, parents of the musician, will fly in from Los Angeles for the main event, attended by three of Ellis' closest friends and former band members. The former members - Glen Stuart (lead trumpet), Sam Falzone (tenor sax), and Milcho Leviev (Bulgarian pianist) - will be featured guest artists for the concert. The Skyline High School Jazz Band will conduct the first portion of the concert, also performing various Ellis compositions. Director Pete Lengyel has commissioned a work in memory of Don Ellis. Local composer and band member Mike Loveless has written the piece, entitled "Poet - In Memory of Don Ellis." The first performance of the piece will be presented at the dedication concert, with all three guest artists featured. Other numbers to be performed in the program are "Old Man's Tear," written by John Klemmer and played by Ellis, featuring Glen Stuart on solo quarter-tone trumpet; "Salvatore Sam," written by Ellis as a musical portrait of Sam Falzone which will feature Falzone; "Final Analysis," written by Ellis, will be the finale to the program - a very elaborate and complex production number. The twenty minute composition will feature Sam Falzone and Milcho Leviev, accompanied by Ensemble musicians. "Final Analysis features various electronic effects built around vast musical extension, enhanced with a major classical ending. "The ending is a musical absurdum, stolen from the best of the classical composers who should've known better," Ellis once said in reference to the piece. "Final Analysis," along with other Ellis tunes to be played in the program will undoubtedly be challenging and difficult for the Eastfield Ensemble. "The challenge will be performing the music the way it's been performed in times past," commented Pete Lengyel.

Following the concert will be a dedication ceremony in the library for the Ellis donation, open to all. Afterwards, there will be a closing reception, held at a site yet to be determined.

Ellis appeared as a special guest of the Jazz Ensemble in concerts of February, 1976 and May, 1978. Eastfield had grown very fond of him, and he of Eastfield. So instead of UCLA, USC, and Boston University, which were also considered for the donation, Eastfield seemed the logical place to house the materials. The Ellis library will consist of 329 compositions, most by Ellis himself. In addition, 298 reel-to-reel tapes of various concerts and recording sessions, along with 23 video cassettes of films, TV commercials, concerts, and TV shows. 179 record albums and 405 singles are also stored. In addition, the Ellis library is housing his 1972 Grammy Award for the "French Connection," various instruments including the Quarter Tone trumpet, plus numerous achievement and special recognition awards.

Ellis was not just a top-notch musician - he was more. Ellis participated in the development of "Third Stream Jazz," a style merging elements of classical music with jazz. He brought the use of electronics into his work, again creating unique and spectacular sounds. The musician was a leader in dealing with complex rhythm meters, his methods widely known and very influential. Ellis also invented various instruments. His most popular, the Quarter Tone trumpet, captured numerous notes not usually heard.

Ellis made many achievements that others in the music industry couldn't make or even think of making. He was recognized in various international publications, such as "Who's Who in America," Men of Achievement," Dictionary of International Biography," plus many others.

Anyone possessing such immense talent should be rewarded - indeed Ellis was. Among his most prestigious awards were the Distinguished Alumni Award (1978) from Boston University, and the Grammy Award (1972), for which he had albums nominated five times (1967-1970; 1972).

Ellis also made an impact on the film and television industries. He was a noted film composer, best known for the themes of "Kansas City Bomber" and "The French Connection." In addition, Ellis wrote various musical backgrounds for television shows and commercials.

In forty-four years, Ellis had developed a performance background totally inconceivable for all others in the industry. He performed with many prestigious jazz groups, such as the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Woody Herman Band, and the Maynard Ferguson Band. He made numerous worldwide appearances, performing for radio, TV, International festivals and top jazz clubs. Ellis also wrote compositions for literally all medium -TV, films, orchestras, and professional bands.

Words cannot possibly express the value of this massive Ellis donation. Receiving it is the most rewarding and exciting event any college could ever experience. The memory of Don Ellis, with his outstanding skill and talent, will live on forever. Eastfield College can proudly say they are helping to keep that memory alive.

The evening of May 7 will be one not easily forgotten, all beginning at 8:00 p.m. in the Performance Hall. Admission is free. Tickets may be picked up at the Humanities Division office.

For additional information contact:

Curt Bradshaw, Archivist
The Don Ellis Memorial Library
Eastfield College
(branch of the Dallas County  Community College System)
3737 Motley Drive
Mesquite, Texas  USA 75150-2099

Telephone (214) 324-7139