22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2011
The earliest of the four albums which make up this compilation is the December 1955/January 1956 "Ellis in Wonderland" on which Herb Ellis was joined by Jimmy Giuffre on tenor, Charlie Mariano on alto, Harry Edison on trumpet, Alvin Stoller on drums, and Oscar Peterson on piano (Ellis was a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio from 1953 to 1958). "Nothing but the Blues" dates from October 1957, with Roy Eldridge on trumpet, Stan Getz on tenor, Ray Brown on bass, and Stan Levey on drums. "Herb Ellis Meets Jimmy Giuffre" dates from March 1959, and also present were Bud Shank & Art Pepper on alto, Richie Kamuca on tenor, Jim Hall supplying rhythm guitar, Joe Mondragon on bass, Stan Levey on drums and Lou Levy on piano. In June 1960 Herb recorded "Thank You, Charlie Christian" with Frank Stazzari on piano, Harry Babasin on cello, Chuck Berghofer on bass, and Kenny Hume on drums.
Herb Ellis has been described as a bop-based guitarist with a slight country twang to his sound. The latter is due to his Texan background, where he would have grown up against a background of Western Swing, but these early recordings also reflect a very blues-inflected approach to the music. He was strongly influenced by the playing of Charlie Christian, but there are echoes of earlier players, Lonnie Johnson being one who springs to mind. He brings a very individual style of single-note playing to these West Coast sessions, of which the Blues album is said to be his favourite. Wonderland is an expanded Peterson outfit, which includes his old campus colleague Jimmy Giuffre, of whom therefore we get a double helping, and why not? All four albums are much sought after, not least "Thank You, Charlie Christian" which, despite the less stellar line-up, is every bit as good.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2011
This is to follow up on Barry M.'s excellent review. Mine is not a stand-alone, just adds to his.
I unsuccessfully lobbied Hipp-o Select to release a Herb Verve package. Now, who cares?
This is amazing - I paid less than $10 including shipping for these great albums. What is sacrificed? The notes are still printed, and only "Nothing" had bonus tracks on the Verve reissue which are not here. The sound is better to my ears on the individual Verve reissues, but you can't get one of them for the price of this collection! The sound here is certainly acceptable, so it's not really an issue for me.
Barry did a good job describing the music. I would add that it is jazzy blues or bluesy jazz. Herb plays in a very cool greasy blues style. If you are not familiar with him, certainly check out samples or better, just buy this!
Fans of Charlie Christian, Oscar and Johnny Moore, Kenny Burrell and Barney Kessell are certain to love this.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2013
What a great guitar master Herb Ellis was. This compilation album is an absolute bargain, straddling 4 different styles that showcase his enormous talent. The blues one is sparse, and displays his great inventiveness in the traditional 1-4-5 format. In the Jimmy Giuffre album he gets to air it out in a larger band format, with a variety of unique compositions and arrangements. He has enormous chops in every jazz context.