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 26-50 of 245 records)
|Company||Matrix No.||Size||First Recording Date||Title||Primary Performer||Description||Role||Audio|
|Columbia||W142892||10-in.||10/29/1926||Brainstorm blues||Seger Ellis||Piano solo||composer, instrumentalist, piano|
|Columbia||W142893||10-in.||10/29/1926||Oh boy and how!||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with piano||composer, vocalist, instrumentalist, piano|
|Columbia||W142894||10-in.||10/29/1926||Don't you know?||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with piano||composer, vocalist, instrumentalist, piano|
|Columbia||W142910||10-in.||11/4/1926||Sunday||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with piano||vocalist, instrumentalist, piano|
|Columbia||W142911||10-in.||11/4/1926||I'd like to know||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with piano||vocalist, instrumentalist, piano, composer|
|Columbia||W142914||10-in.||11/4/1926||When I get her in my motor car||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with piano||vocalist, instrumentalist, piano, composer|
|Columbia||W142926||10-in.||11/10/1926||Ain't that too bad?||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with piano||vocalist, instrumentalist, piano|
|Columbia||W143162||10-in.||12/2/1926||I gotta get myself somebody to love||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo||vocalist|
|Columbia||W144090||10-in.||5/4/1927||Just before you broke my heart||Art Gillham||Male vocal solo, with piano||songwriter|
|Columbia||W144654||10-in.||9/9/1927||Kiss and make up||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio||vocalist|
|Columbia||W144655||10-in.||9/9/1927||Here am I—broken hearted||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio||vocalist|
|Columbia||W144817||10-in.||9/30/1927||Everybody loves my girl||Seger Ellis ; Radiolites||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||vocalist|
|Columbia||W144820||10-in.||10/11/1927||I'm walkin' on air||Seger Ellis ; Fred Rich Hotel Astor Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||vocalist|
|Columbia||W145280||10-in.||12/7/1927||Where in the world (Is there someone for me)||The Cavaliers ; Seger Ellis||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||vocalist|
|Columbia||W145382||10-in.||12/21/1927||[Unknown title(s)]||Seger Ellis||Piano solo||instrumentalist, piano|
|Columbia||W145414||10-in.||12/15/1927||I'll think of you||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio||vocalist|
|Columbia||W145436||10-in.||12/20/1927||Everywhere you go||Seger Ellis ; Paul Ash Orchestra||Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo||vocalist|
|Columbia||W145438||10-in.||12/20/1927||Without you, sweetheart||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with instrumental quartet||vocalist|
|Columbia||W145439||10-in.||12/20/1927||Girl of my dreams||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with instrumental quartet||vocalist|
|Columbia||W145441||10-in.||12/21/1927||Beautiful||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio||vocalist|
|Columbia||W145442||10-in.||12/21/1927||Where in the world (Is there someone for me)||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio||vocalist|
|Columbia||W145443||10-in.||12/21/1927||Smoke||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with piano||composer, vocalist|
|Columbia||W145691||10-in.||2/28/1928||Without you, sweetheart||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble||vocalist|
|Columbia||W145692||10-in.||2/28/1928||The church bells are ringing for Mary||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble||vocalist|
|Columbia||W145693||10-in.||3/28/1928||Nothin' on my mind (But the moonlight, the starlight, and you)||Seger Ellis||Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble||vocalist|
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.
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