Two Sax Legends:
Pee Wee Ellis is a renowned saxophonist and composer, born on April 21, 1941, who had an illustrious career in both jazz and funk music. One of the most intriguing stories from his early years as a musician is his time spent taking saxophone lessons from the legendary Sonny Rollins.
Rollins, widely considered one of the most influential saxophonists in jazz history, was a mentor and inspiration to Ellis. In the early 1960s, Ellis traveled to New York to study Rollins’ playing style and learn from his vast knowledge of jazz theory and technique.
Rollins’ guidance helped Ellis to develop his unique playing style, which became an essential component of the funk music he would later create with James Brown and other artists. Ellis’ horn arrangements for Brown’s hits like “Cold Sweat” and “Mother Popcorn” showcase Rollins’ influence, featuring complex harmonic structures and improvisational techniques.
The relationship between Pee Wee Ellis and Sonny Rollins highlights the significance of mentorship and collaboration in jazz music. Rollins’ inspiration and guidance helped shape Ellis’ career, and their contributions to the genre continue to inspire and influence musicians for generations to come. As giants of the jazz world, their legacies will live on.