Acoustic Music, 1998

1. Lady Be Good

2. Limehouse Blues 

3. A Foggy Day

4. Bye Bye Bay

5. I Can’t Get Started 

6. What Is This Thing Called Love

7. Wave 

8. The Flintstones 

Herb Ellis – guitar 

Hendrik Meurkens – harmonica, vibes (track 7) 

Chris Berger – bass 

Chuck Redd – drums

Hendrik’s Notes

Herb Ellis joined me for two European tours in 1998 and 1999. It was very exciting to play with him.

Herb has an incredible strong stage presence. He is rather short and usually sits while he plays but he can dish up the meanest look in the business. Herb really is the sweetest guy but he can put up face that makes you reconsider your most recent actions.

And he is in complete control musically. His chords are exactly what you want to hear on a given tune. Very simple and just right. In Jazz, many standards have been reharmonized and hip-nified and sometimes we think those modified versions are the reference. But Herb plays them the authentic way and all of a sudden the tunes sound much clearer and ‘cleaner’.

For instance I Can’t Get Started, where everybody plays the descending two-fives in the A-section because that’s how we know it. Not Herb. He plays the original version and now the song sounds like a standard again. Pre-bop, so to speak.

Herb also hated when I ended a tune on the #11. Man, he gave me the coldest look every time I did it. Of course I didn’t do it for very long because I wanted to get out of there alive!

Those tours in Europe lasted about 3 weeks and we traveled every day. During those long hours he shared stories from his time with Oscar’s trio and I sucked them in like a sponge. Like Herb’s first day with the Trio, when Oscar and Ray Brown walked through a park holding hands to test Herb’s reaction. Or Oscar’s tough demands on his sidemen as far as playing the arrangements right, please.

Herb swings like few others do. After playing with him, I completely understand why Oscar wanted him for his trio. The way he pushes the band with his comping reminds me of Jimmy Cobb. Oscar didn’t need a drummer having Herb and Ray Brown. Man, what an honor to play with the guy.

Check out Limehouse Blues where his comping totally pushes the whole band. That is really almost a lost art. We have to listen to guys like Herb Ellis to remind us what Jazz is all about. This is the original, authentic way.

Chuck Redd plays drums and understands this music like few others from his generation. He listens to this style, he plays it and he lives it. How about his brushwork on Limehouse Blues?

My man Chris Berger holds everything together again on this one. This is the first of three albums we’ve done with different bands. He has it all: he’s a great soloist but much more important, he can walk the dog. And, he is a great buddy on the road. You want somebody like him on a 3-week tour.

This a pretty much a harmonica album but Herb also liked my vibes playing so on Wave there is my European based Musser again. That instrument sounds soooooo good.

Herb also likes fast tempos. So do I. Limehouse Blues is up there and The Flintstones shows some serious rhythm changes playing. Check out Herb’s riffs behind my solo. That’s what they did in those days. It pushes the soloist forward. Why has this gotten lost??

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or an Autographed Copy