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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 76-100 of 245 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
OKeh W81460 10-in. 9/20/1927 Are you thinking of me to-night? Seger Ellis ; Justin Ring Trio Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio vocalist  
OKeh W81461 10-in. 9/20/1927 Yesterday Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio vocalist  
OKeh W81546 10-in. 10/14/1927 Together, we two Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio vocalist  
OKeh W81547 10-in. 10/14/1927 Did you mean it? Seger Ellis ; Justin Ring Trio Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio vocalist  
OKeh W81548 10-in. 10/17/1927 Together, we two Seger Ellis ; Lanin’s Famous Players Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81549 10-in. 10/17/1927 What'll you do? Seger Ellis ; Lanin’s Famous Players Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81550 10-in. 10/17/1927 There must be somebody else Seger Ellis ; Lanin’s Famous Players Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81591 10-in. 10/1/1927 My blue heaven Seger Ellis ; Justin Ring Trio Male vocal solo, with instrumental trio vocalist  
OKeh W81815 10-in. 11/11/1927 Yesterday Sigmund Krumgold Pipe organ solo, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81840 10-in. 11/18/1927 Poppin' 'em out Seger Ellis Piano solo composer, instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh W81888 10-in. 11/29/1927 Girl of my dreams Seger Ellis ; Lanin’s Famous Players Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81889 10-in. 11/29/1927 Lonely melody Seger Ellis ; Lanin’s Famous Players Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81890 10-in. 11/29/1927 The hours I spent with you Seger Ellis ; Lanin’s Famous Players Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81895 10-in. 11/29/1927 The sweetheart of Sigma Chi Seger Ellis ; Joe Green ; The Royal Music Makers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81896 10-in. 11/29/1927 After we kiss Seger Ellis ; Joe Green ; Royal Music Makers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W81902 10-in. 12/7/1927 It was only a sun shower Seger Ellis ; Justin Ring Salon Orchestra Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
OKeh W81903 10-in. 11/30/1927 Among my souvenirs Seger Ellis ; Justin Ring Salon Orchestra Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
OKeh W81945 10-in. 12/19/1927 Among my souvenirs Seger Ellis Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh W81947 10-in. 12/19/1927 To-morrow Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental quartet vocalist  
OKeh W81948 10-in. 12/19/1927 After we kiss Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental quartet vocalist  
OKeh W400131 10-in. 3/6/1928 Sunshine Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble vocalist  
OKeh W400132 10-in. 3/6/1928 You'd rather forget than forgive Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with instrumental vocalist  
OKeh W400186 10-in. 3/30/1928 I can’t do without you Royal Music Makers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W400187 10-in. 3/30/1928 Auf wiederseh'n (We'll meet again) Seger Ellis ; Joe Green ; Royal Music Makers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W400189 10-in. 4/3/1928 Lila Frankie Trumbauer’s Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
(Results 76-100 of 245 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Ellis, Seger," accessed February 4, 2023, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/108317.

Ellis, Seger. (2023). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/108317.

"Ellis, Seger." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2023. Web. 4 February 2023.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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