Don Ellis: Trumpet (and Quarter-tone Trumpet)

If you play trumpet, you should know about Don Ellis. Read his Wiki page. Here’s what he sounded like at the 1977 Montreux Jazz Festival. Echoes of Chuck Mangione at the beginning of the first tune below, Open Wide, but around 3:35 he blows a mean solo on trumpet. Check it! (hear more of the concert here). Check out Don Ellis’s discography.


And here’s Don Ellis performing with Ohio State University, just because it’s great! Don Ellis was also an experimenter, as are most improvisers, I think (see the quarter tone video below). Ellis also played a Superbone (like Maynard Ferguson, who helped develop the instrument). You can hear Ellis play (and describe) the Superbone starting at 10:00.


Ellis sometimes played a quarter-tone trumpet (which you can see in the screenshot of the above video). A quarter-tone trumpet is a 4-valve trumpet that can play another note in between the normal half-step of our Western music system. Confused? Here’s Ibrahim Maalouf (whose dad apparently invented the instrument), explaining the horn and demonstrates a scale from the maqam style of music in the interview (go to 2:35 if the link doesn’t drop you there automagically).

I couldn’t find any good footage of Don Ellis playing the quarter tone trumpet (hook me up if you know of any!), but Ibrahim Maalouf sure plays one well. Below is a video of him in action with his quarter-tone trumpet. Nice! (Maalouf’s discography)


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