Image Source: Wikipedia

Seger Ellis

Seger Pillot Ellis (July 4, 1904 in Houston, Texas – 1995 in Houston, Texas) was a jazz pianist and vocalist. He also made a few brief film appearances, most notably in collaboration with director Ida Lupino.

Ellis began his career as pianist playing live for a local Houston radio station (later known as KPRC) in the early 1920s. In 1925 he was added to the orchestra of Lloyd Finlay for a "field trip" recording session for Victor Records and was also allowed to cut two piano solos. Although unissued for technical reasons, these solo efforts led to Ellis being invited to Victor's regular recording studio in Camden, New Jersey to cut a number of piano solos, all or most of them compositions of his own. These were among the earliest records Victor made using the new electric microphone and recording equipment, a technique that was yet not perfected which probably explains why only four of the titles were eventually issued. Of these the coupling Prairie Blues and Sentimental Blues became a minor hit.

After his first recording experiences Ellis returned to Houston and radio work as well as playing in vaudeville theaters. During this period Ellis, mainly on request of his employers at the radio station, began adding singing to his piano playing. His pleasant voice went well with the audiences and in 1927 he was invited to New York City to make vocal test recordings. His first issued vocal record was Sunday on the Columbia label. This was followed by a string of records for Okeh Records where Ellis was usually backed by small studio groups that he was allowed to pick himself. Ellis used the opportunity to select many of the best jazz musicians of the time including Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang, Andy Sannella and - on two occasions - even Louis Armstrong. On these records Ellis sang in a bittersweet alto, with which he was uncomfortable early in his career, believing his voice to be too high. Ellis was popular enough during the time he was on OKeh for them to create a special silver colored custom label for his records.

Ellis's first recording career ended in 1931. In the late 1930s however, he returned with a big band of his own, known as his "Choirs of Brass Orchestra" with himself conducting and taking occasional vocals. The band also featured his wife, Irene Taylor as a vocalist. Later in his career, Ellis focused more on songwriting, although he continued to record sporadically as well as playing the piano.

In 1939 Ellis reorganized and his new band featured the conventional four-man reed section. He disbanded in 1941 and enlisted in the Army-Air Force in 1942.

After moving back to Texas he began to be less active as a performer and more involved in songwriting. Among his many compositions are "My Beloved Is Rugged" and "11:60PM" (both recorded by Harry James), "Gene's Boogie" (recorded by Gene Krupa), and "Little Jack Frost, Get Lost" and "You're All I Want for Christmas" (both recorded by Bing Crosby). "December" was recorded by Count Basie with a Mills Brothers vocal. The Seger Ellis songwriting catalog also includes "No Baby, Nobody But You" and "You Be You but Let Me Be Me". - Seger Ellis gradually retired and took up residence in Houston where he died in a retirement home on September 29, 1995.

Birth and Death Data: Born 1906 (Houston), Died September 29, 1995 (Houston)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1925 - 1948

Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, piano, composer, arranger, speaker, leader, songwriter

Notes: The pseudonym, Arthur Terry, was used by both Seger Ellis and Smith Ballew.

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 226-245 of 245 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Brunswick E36034 10-in. 2/6/1931 Tie a little string around your finger (So you’ll remember me) Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
Brunswick E36035 10-in. 2/6/1931 Loveless love Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
Brunswick E36085 10-in. 2/17/1931 Loveless love Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
Brunswick E36190 10-in. 2/26/1931 Heartaches Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
Brunswick E36191 10-in. 2/26/1931 Teardrops and kisses Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
Brunswick E36192 10-in. 2/26/1931 I’ve found what I wanted in you Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
Brunswick E36220 10-in. 3/4/1931 One little raindrop Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
Brunswick E36872 10-in. 6/19/1931 Nevertheless (I’m in love with you) Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
Brunswick E36873 10-in. 6/19/1931 As long as you’re there Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
Brunswick E4064-E4065 10-in. 11/11/1926 I want to be known as Susie's "feller" Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, instrumentalist, piano  
Brunswick E4066-E4067 10-in. 11/11/1926 Sweet thing Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist, instrumentalist, piano  
Decca DLA 333 10-in. 4/3/1936 I want to be discovered Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra vocalist  
Decca DLA 334 10-in. 4/3/1936 It's no fun Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra vocalist  
Decca DLA 342 10-in. 4/4/1936 Moonrise on the lowlands Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra vocalist  
Decca DLA 749 10-in. 3/11/1937 Three little words Seger Ellis Choirs of Brass Orchestra vocalist, arranger  
Decca DLA 750 10-in. 3/11/1937 Bees knees Seger Ellis Choirs of Brass Orchestra arranger  
Decca DLA 751 10-in. 3/11/1937 A pretty girl is like a melody Seger Ellis Choirs of Brass Orchestra arranger  
Decca DLA 752 10-in. 3/11/1937 I know that you know Seger Ellis Choirs of Brass Orchestra arranger  
Decca DLA 753 10-in. 3/11/1937 Sometimes I'm happy Seger Ellis Choirs of Brass Orchestra vocalist, arranger  
Decca DLA 754 10-in. 3/11/1937 Shivery stomp Seger Ellis Choirs of Brass Orchestra arranger  
(Results 226-245 of 245 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Ellis, Seger," accessed January 27, 2023, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/108317.

Ellis, Seger. (2023). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/108317.

"Ellis, Seger." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2023. Web. 27 January 2023.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/108317

Wikipedia content provided under the terms of the Creative Commons BY-SA license

Feedback

Send the Editors a message about this record.