One of the funkiest horn players in jazz music history is indeed Pee Wee Ellis, a well known American musician who was an essential part of James Brown band in 1960s. He is a saxophonist, arranger and composer. He was born on April 21, 1941 in Florida, U.S.A., but spent his childhood in Texas, from where he got his nick name, which is his identity now. Music particularly jazz was his passion and he was active in making and learning music since his childhood. During his teenage years, he moved to New York and took music lesson from renowned New York schools and academies.
PROFESSIONAL LIFE OR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND:
Pee Wee gave his first performance at the age of 13 years in Dunbar Junior High School. He started his professional career from Florida in 1960 after acquiring his education in music from New York and worked as music director, writer and band leader. In 1965, he started working with James Brown and became a part of some hit projects like “Cold Sweat” and “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”, “Mother Popcorn”, “Lickin’ Stick,” and “The Chicken” in a short period of 4 years. After which he again moved to New York and worked with CTI Records’ Kudu label, and worked with artists like George Benson, Hank Crawford and Esther Phillips, Miles Davis sideman David Liebman. He later worked with Van Morrison’s band as arranger and music director and of course fully deserves the credit of major hits of that time. His song with James Brown, is the source of inspiration for all black people, and truly expresses their mind and heart. His song reflects his self-respect and truly reflects the political and social awakening that was started among black people during that time that force them to fight for their basic rights.
Say it loud,
I’m black and I’m proud, was a huge hit and still holds the status of national anthem for many traditional black people.
Pee Wee is widely known as Inventor of Funk jazz, when during an interview he was asked this question, he humbly answered himself as an artist who was working with passion and love that he has for music and for jazz in particular. In 1995, the diversity, excellence and purity of his music quality and his talent became evident to the world, when he played tenor sax and arranged the horns for the music album Worotan, by Mali’s Oumou Sangare, which is more famous with the title “Songbird of Wassoulou”.
In 2009, he pay tribute to James Brown by organizing a tour called “Still Black, Still Proud” to Africa with Mahotella Queens and Ghanaian born rapper Ty, on July 12, 2009, at the Frome Festival and in April and May of 2010 in Europe.
He is one of some evergreen stars that are still active in showbiz and a huge fan following that consist of people from all ages, races, religion and economic backgrounds who go crazy after seeing a glimpse of their hero.