At the age of 75, Pee Wee Ellis, the saxophonist, composer and arranger, is still touring the world with his music, carrying a special story that spans six decades.
It started in the 50s when he took his his sax to New York city to find his heroes, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and the great Sonny Rollins, who became his teacher and mentor.
A promising career leading jazz bands in Florida took an unexpected turn in 1965 when he joined James Brown’s band. Within six months he became the bandleader/musical director and co-wrote many of Brown’s most notable recordings, including his hit ”Cold Sweat”, widely acknowledged as the first true funk record.
By 1970, Pee Wee started producing and directing for artists like Brother Jack McDuff, Esther Phillips and George Benson. In California, in 1979, he caught the ear of Van Morrison and began a five year stint as Morrison’s MD/bandleader. During the 1990’s, he moved to Europe to pursue a solo career, releasing jazz albums including the critically acclaimed “12 and More Blues”.
Soon after, he rejoined Van Morrison as bandleader/arranger for another five successful years. Meanwhile, his musical talents earned him worldwide recognition, and stars from Africa to Cuba sought his distinctive sound. Pee Wee eventually chose to focus on his own projects, such as his band, The Pee Wee Ellis Assembly. However, he still frequents the studio with renowned artists like Boy George and George Clinton, and seems to show no sign of slowing down anytime soon!