Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Thursday, 1 April 2010 12:09 UK

Jazz guitarist Herb Ellis dies aged 88

Herb Ellis
Ellis joined the Oscar Peterson Trio in 1953

Herb Ellis, considered to be one of the great jazz guitar soloists, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 88.

The musician, who had Alzheimer's disease, died at his home, his son told the Los Angeles Times.

Ellis, whose career spanned six decades, performed with what is regarded as the classic line-up of the acclaimed Oscar Peterson Trio.

He also worked with jazz greats including Ella Fitzgerald, Jimmy Dorsey and Louis Armstrong.

Ellis - who was born in 1921 in Farmersville, Texas - was performing in the trio Soft Winds in a concert in Buffalo, New York, in 1952, when pianist Peterson spotted his talent.

"He liked it," Ellis told the Los Angeles Times in 1993.

"So he and I went out later that night and jammed at some place in Buffalo.

"I didn't see him again until 1953 when [guitarist] Barney Kessel left his group - that's when he called me for the job."

'Special time'

Peterson and Ellis performed with bassist Ray Brown in the ensemble between 1953 and 1958 before they reunited in the 1980s.

"That time was very special to all of them," his son, Mitch Ellis, told the Los Angeles Times.

As jazz has changed through the years and different styles have developed, Ellis always remained true to the form he played from the beginning
The Recording Academy

"He and Ray roomed together - they were really best friends."

The trio worked hard and practised for "hours and hours", he added.

"When they got back together in the '80s it was a lot more fun, a lot more relaxed."

Grammy organiser The Recording Academy said, in a statement, that Ellis, who won two of the awards, was "devoted to playing what he called straight-ahead mainstream jazz".

"As jazz has changed through the years and different styles have developed, Ellis always remained true to the form he played from the beginning," the statement added.

"The jazz world has lost a great musician and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends, and all who enjoyed his work."



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