Seger Ellis and His Choirs of Brass

Pianist, singer and bandleader Seger Ellis had an interesting and varied career. He started out as a barrelhouse pianist, recording several piano solos between 1925 and 1927, and then became a crooner in the late 20s and early 30s. In the mid-30s Ellis somehow had the idea that a big band with eight brass and one clarinet would become the next big thing, so he formed the Choirs of Brass in 1936. They recorded six sides for Decca and a bunch of transcriptions, but their brass-heavy sound never caught on.

The LP featured here contains twelve radio recordings that were probably captured on disc in 1937. Tom Lord's discography gives the date as "Probably late 30s/early 40s", but the LP liner notes state that the Choirs of Brass broke up in 1937. 'Snuff Stuff', most likely an original composition, features a nice minor key melody and some dramatic call and response between the different horn sections. 'Walking the Dog' is the Shelton Brooks song from 1916 that has been recorded by several other swing bands. Both songs suffer from the same problem: The rhythm is very unsteady and it sounds like the band is about to fall apart at times. Judging from these recordings, the Choirs of Brass was an interesting but failed experiment.

Discographical data from the LP liner notes:

Seger Ellis and His Choirs of Brass: Nate Kazebier, Don Anderson, Benny Strickler, Hank McCarthy (tp) King Jackson, Bob Logan, Al Thompson, John Stanley (tb) Irving Fazola or Pancho Villa (cl) Al Mack or Stan Wrightsman (p) Jim Lynch (b) George Siegler, Ralph Collier, or Richie Cornell (d)

Broadcasts, New York, prob. 1937
    Snuff Stuff 
    Walkin' the Dog

 LP source: Seger Ellis – Choirs of Brass 1937 (Alamac QSR 2408)

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