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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 51-75 of 245 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia W145888 10-in. 4/4/1928 Phi Delta Theta dream girl Seger Ellis ; Jan Garber Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
Columbia W146270 10-in. 4/20/1928 The voice of the Southland (Keeps callin' me home) Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental quartet vocalist  
Columbia W146287 10-in. 5/1/1928 If I lost you Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble vocalist  
Columbia W146359 10-in. 5/28/1928 I'm away from the world when I'm away from you ('Cause you're all the world to me) Eddie Thomas’ Collegians [Columbians] Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
Columbia W146360 10-in. 5/28/1928 Rosette Eddie Thomas’ Collegians [Columbians] ; Seger Ellis Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
Columbia W146392 10-in. 6/4/1928 Was it a dream? Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental quartet vocalist  
Columbia W146393 10-in. 6/4/1928 Last night I dreamed you kissed me Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental quartet vocalist  
Columbia W146394 10-in. 6/4/1928 I still love you Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental quartet vocalist  
Columbia W146569 10-in. 6/21/1928 When you said "good-night" (Did you really mean "good-bye"?) Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental quartet vocalist  
Columbia W146570 10-in. 6/21/1928 Memories of France Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental quartet vocalist  
Columbia W146571 10-in. 6/21/1928 I never thought (That some day you'd be mine) Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental quartet vocalist  
Columbia W146581 10-in. 6/26/1928 When you're smiling (The whole world smiles with you) Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with violin, cello, and piano vocalist  
Columbia W146582 10-in. 6/26/1928 I wish I had died in my cradle (Before I grew up to love you) Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with violin, cello, and piano vocalist  
Columbia W151185 10-in. 12/15/1930 Cheerful little earful Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
Columbia W151186 10-in. 12/15/1930 I miss a little miss (Who misses me in sunny Tennessee) Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
OKeh W80228 10-in. 11/30/1926 My baby knows how Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist  
OKeh W80229 10-in. 11/30/1926 It made you happy when you made me cry Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist  
OKeh W80231 10-in. 11/30/1926 Have you forgotten? Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist  
OKeh W80234 10-in. 12/1/1926 Kiss your little baby good-night! Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with piano vocalist  
OKeh W81271 10-in. 8/24/1927 Shaking the blues away Irwin Abrams Hotel Manger Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81272 10-in. 8/24/1927 It all belongs to me Irwin Abrams Hotel Manger Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81274 10-in. 8/25/1927 Blue river Seger Ellis ; Frankie Trumbauer and his Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81275 10-in. 8/25/1927 There's a cradle in Caroline Seger Ellis ; Frankie Trumbauer and his Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81284 10-in. 8/27/1927 Dawning Lanin’s Famous Players Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81459 10-in. 9/20/1927 There's one little girl who loves me (One little girl who don't) Seger Ellis ; Justin Ring Trio Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio vocalist  
(Results 51-75 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

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