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Herb Ellis Obituary

8/4/1921 - 3/28/2010| Visit Guest Book

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Herb Ellis, the critically acclaimed jazz guitarist who played with such luminaries as Ella Fitzgerald and was a member once of the celebrated Oscar Peterson Trio, died Sunday, his son said. He was 88.

Mitch Ellis, the musician's son, told The New York Times and Los Angeles Times that his father died of complications associated with Alzheimer's disease at his Los Angeles home.

Ellis, born in 1921 in Farmersville, Texas, was regarded as one of the finest jazz guitar soloists. He mixed bebop with country twang in a career that spanned six decades.

After an early stint playing with big band leader Jimmy Dorsey, Ellis and two Dorsey colleagues formed the Soft Winds trio, whose "Detour Ahead" became a jazz standard, recorded most memorably by Billie Holiday.

"As jazz has changed through the years and different styles have developed, Ellis always remained true to the form he played from the beginning," Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow said in a statement. "The jazz world has lost a great musician, and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and all who enjoyed his work."

Ellis attracted the most notoriety performing with the Oscar Peterson Trio for five years from 1953 to 1958 with pianist Peterson and bassist Ray Brown. He later went on to tour and record with Fitzgerald and was a frequent participant in record producer Norman Granz's all-star Jazz at the Philharmonic touring shows.

Ellis is survived by his wife Patti, son, daughter and three grandchildren.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press
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