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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 126-150 of 245 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
OKeh W401228 10-in. 10/16/1928 Dream house Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W401229 10-in. 10/16/1928 I loved you then as I love you now Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W401299 10-in. 11/8/1928 Sweet dreams Lanin’s Famous Players Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W401300 10-in. 11/8/1928 Someday, somewhere (We'll meet again) Seger Ellis ; Lanin’s Famous Players Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W401301 10-in. 11/8/1928 Paradise Seger Ellis ; Lanin’s Famous Players Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W401414 10-in. 11/28/1928 Don't be like that Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
OKeh W401432 10-in. 12/6/1928 The song I love Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
OKeh W401433 10-in. 12/6/1928 Where the shy little violets grow Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
OKeh W401434 10-in. 12/6/1928 My inspiration is you Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
OKeh W401443 10-in. 12/10/1928 Blue shadows Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
OKeh W401444 10-in. 12/10/1928 You're just a little bit of everything I love Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
OKeh W401464 10-in. 12/17/1928 Sweethearts on parade Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W401465 10-in. 12/17/1928 My Tonia Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with orchestra vocalist  
OKeh W401468 10-in. 12/20/1928 Powerful blues Seger Ellis Piano solo instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh W401711 10-in. 3/13/1929 Broadway Rose Dick McDonough Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W401764 10-in. 4/1/1929 Coquette Seger Ellis ; Justin Ring Orchestra Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W401765 10-in. 4/1/1929 Louise Seger Ellis ; Justin Ring Orchestra Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W401794 10-in. 4/5/1929 Mean to me Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W401795 10-in. 4/5/1929 Lover, come back to me! Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W401796 10-in. 4/5/1929 As long as you believe in me Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W401799 10-in. 4/9/1929 One moment more with you Seger Ellis ; Justin Ring Orchestra Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W401800 10-in. 4/9/1929 You, just you Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W401801 10-in. 4/9/1929 Only for you Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W401961 10-in. 5/22/1929 Shivery stomp Frankie Trumbauer’s Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
OKeh W402416 10-in. 6/4/1929 S'posin' Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
(Results 126-150 of 245 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Ellis, Seger," accessed February 7, 2023, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/108317.

Ellis, Seger. (2023). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved February 7, 2023, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/108317.

"Ellis, Seger." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2023. Web. 7 February 2023.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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