This is some solid jazz. When he's not been collaborating with guitar maestro Charlie Hunter, saxophonist John Ellis has found time to start recording albums with his own quintet, lately for Hyena Records.
On "By a Thread," his second album for the New York label, Ellis and his crew weave elements of Blue Note post-bop with Headhunters-style funk, and make additional nods to countless past jazz masters, all with modern-day flair. This five-piece outfit has got groove-laden guitar, spicy electric and acoustic piano, and a punchy rhythm section, as well as Ellis' own easygoing yet thorough horns to lead the way.
One can't help but be impressed that Ellis, like Hunter, typically gives us all-original material (in fact, Ellis has either written or co-written many of the cuts on Hunter's recent albums). But what is most impressive about Ellis is that the original material he gives us is so good! Recommended.
- Dave Bond