JACOB H. CARRUTHERS FOR INNER CITY STUDIES
James Wallace Ellis, a native Chicagoan, graduated from DuSable High School in 1950 after four years of full participation in concert and stage bands. Under the direction of Captain Walter Dyett, Ellis played clarinet in the concert band alto sax in the stage band receiving a four year scholarship to Florida A&M College. He attended Vandercook Music College and The Chicago Conservatory of Music. Ellis has worked with such notables as Nat "King" Cole, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Sun Ra, Sammy Davis Jr., Sarah Vaughn, King Kolax Band, Jimmy Dorsey, Pearl Bailey, Duke Ellington Orchestra under the direction of Mercer Ellington, Louie Belson and many others. Some musical compositions by Ellis can be found in the archives of theater and TV musical drama, such as Oscar Brown Jr., Val Gray Ward of Kuumba Theater and Jackie Taylor of Hull House Theater of Chicago. As Artist in Residence, Ellis directed the Olive Harvey City College Band for the 1981-82 semester.
During January 1995 Ellis was guest artist in concert with South Bend Community School Corporation Jazz Bands and Indiana University South Bend Jazz Ensemble. From 1986 to 1991 Ellis served on the Board of Directors of the Jazz Institute of Chicago as co-leader of the Jazz Express Band which presented concerts in Chicago High Schools imparting to the students the history of Jazz Music and at the same time, allowing the students the opportunity to hear the music in authenticity. During these concerts performers such as Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Turrentine, to name a few, participated in the program. As an elected delegate to the National Convention of The American Federation of Musicians, Ellis represented Local 10-208 of the Chicago Chapter from 1980 to 1983. The Jimmy Ellis Workshop Band was active from 1976 to 2003 and was open to musicians of all ages and levels of development. The last ten years the workshop was housed on the University of Chicago Campus at the Blue Gargoyle. The LP recording "Thought Seeds", featuring the Paris Smith Quintet presents Ellis playing alto sax and sax cello.
Ellis is a performing musician and can be heard in concert and nightclubs throughout the Chicago area. Ellis teaches interested students privately while finding time to relax with his hobby of painting and working with a unique form of metal collagery.
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