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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 151-175 of 245 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
OKeh W402417 10-in. 6/4/1929 To be in love (Espesh'lly with you) Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W402463 10-in. 6/18/1929 Singin' in the rain Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance ensemble vocalist  
OKeh W402464 10-in. 6/18/1929 Your mother and mine Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W402495 10-in. 7/8/1929 You laughed when I told you I loved you Morelli's Bohemians Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W402496 10-in. 7/8/1929 Joe College Morelli's Bohemians Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W402556 10-in. 8/5/1929 John makes good licker Fiddlin' John Carson ; Moonshine Kate Instrumental trio, with talk and female-male vocal duet speaker  
OKeh W402557 10-in. 8/5/1929 John makes good licker Fiddlin' John Carson ; Moonshine Kate Instrumental trio, with talk and female-male vocal duet speaker  
OKeh W402861 10-in. 8/16/1929 Orange blossom time Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W402862 10-in. 8/16/1929 Nobody but you Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W402881 10-in. 8/23/1929 Ain't misbehavin' Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W402882 10-in. 8/26/1929 There was nothing else to do Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W402883 10-in. 8/26/1929 True blue Lou Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W402884 10-in. 8/27/1929 My song of the Nile Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W402971 10-in. 9/20/1929 My lover (Master of my heart) Seger Ellis ; Joe Green ; Royal Music Makers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W402972 10-in. 9/20/1929 There must be somebody waiting for me (In Loveland) Seger Ellis ; Joe Green ; Royal Music Makers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W402973 10-in. 9/20/1929 When the real thing comes your way Seger Ellis ; Joe Green ; Royal Music Makers Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo vocalist  
OKeh W402988 10-in. 9/24/1929 The medicine show Fiddlin' John Carson ; Emmett Miller Descriptive scene, with vocal and instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh W402989 10-in. 9/24/1929 The medicine show Fiddlin' John Carson ; Emmett Miller Descriptive scene, with vocal and instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, piano  
OKeh W402992 10-in. 9/25/1929 The medicine show Fiddlin' John Carson ; Emmett Miller Descriptive scene, with vocal and instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, piano, speaker  
OKeh W402997 10-in. 9/25/1929 The medicine show Fiddlin' John Carson ; Emmett Miller Descriptive scene, with vocal and instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, piano, speaker  
OKeh W402998 10-in. 9/25/1929 The medicine show Fiddlin' John Carson ; Emmett Miller Descriptive scene, with vocal and instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, piano, speaker  
OKeh W402999 10-in. 9/25/1929 The medicine show Fiddlin' John Carson ; Emmett Miller Descriptive scene, with vocal and instrumental ensemble instrumentalist, piano, speaker  
OKeh W403057 10-in. 10/11/1929 I'm a dreamer—aren't we all? Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W403058 10-in. 10/11/1929 If I had a talking picture of you Seger Ellis Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
OKeh W403059 10-in. 10/11/1929 I don't want your kisses (If I can't have your love) Justin Reid Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist  
(Results 151-175 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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