April 21, 1941 - present

Pee Wee Ellis

Color picture of Pee Wee Ellis and his saxaphone
Courtesy of ABC News, January 19, 2015
Black and white photograph of Pee Wee Ellis
Courtesy of David Weimann
Doug Duke

Following his father’s death in 1955, 14-year-old Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis and his family moved to Rochester which proved to be a formative move for the budding musician. While in Rochester, Ellis gigged regularly with Ron Carter and the Mangione Brothers, and in 1957, he attended the Manhattan School of Music, with regular lessons from Sonny Rollins. Utilizing his skills as a bandleader, musician, and composer, Ellis later worked with James Brown and Van Morrison and others, creating hits like “Cold Sweat,” “Sat It Loud– I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and “The Chicken.”

Throughout his career, Ellis has returned to Rochester, playing at the jazz clubs that rose and fell over the years. These included the legendary Pythodd Jazz Club, and later, lesser known contemporary clubs such as Richmond’s and Jazzberry.

Ellis is known for his wide range of musical skills, his globe-spanning music endeavors, and having developed his own stile of jazz-funk. He now resides in England, playing and supporting jazz at any opportunity.

Steve Gadd

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