Black Wallet Records
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"Just Before Dawn"
|"Just Before Dawn"
Jump For Joy (5:22)
Fishin' Trip (7:26)
Oh Yeah ~ part 1 (0:18)
Stormy Monday Blues (5:38)
Troulbe In Mind (5:26)
I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home (6:29)
Was It A Whisper? (10:23)
You Gotta Move (4:40)
Oh Yeah ~ part 2 "The Sequel" (0:10)
See Lyin' Woman (8:01)
Tired Of That (7:29)
Just Before Dawn (3:41)
I've Got My Mojo Working (9:34)
Total Time 74:47
Sydney Ellis ~ vocals, Bebof ~ guitar, Roland Weber or Chris Zeitner ~ drums, Martin Preiser ~ organ, Doc Ellis ~ e-bass
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|"Just Before Dawn" is Sydney's 5th CD. Recorded live while on tour
in Europe with her "Yes Mama Band" in the Autumn of 2010. Just Before Dawn
captures "That" live feeling and excitement perfectly. The instrument line-up
is: drums, e-bass, guitar and for the first time organ. The two original
songs, "Just Before Dawn" and "Was It A Whisper?" are supported by a selection
of blues songs most blues listeners will be familiar with. Throughout this
live performance Sydney shows that vocal strength and power she has become
famous for. The band is tight and expressive. Eleven songs, eleven different
grooves and feels.
"Jump For Joy" is the opening number for Sydney on the tour and is one of Koko Taylor's tunes. It drives, pushes, and peaks several times. It features solos by organ and guitar. "Fishin' Trip" is another Koko Taylor tune. This time in a medium slow 12/8. The bass setting the heavy walking feeling. Solos by organ and guitar give it a great character and flavor. Next time you go fishing make sure you bring some fish home. "OhYeah part 1", is one of those moments that just happens while on stage and Sydney wanted it on the CD. "Stormy Monday Blues" is a T-Bone Walker tune. Sydney has changed the traditional arrangement to an up tempo shuffle giving this number an almost "Swing" feel to it. Again solos are organ and guitar. Classic blues ending. "Trouble In Mind", is an R. M. Jones song from 1926 and one of the most covered songs of the 20th century. It is also a signature song for Sydney. The organ gives a real "Churchy Sound" to it. This is one song that Sydney has been singing live since she started singing 20 years ago. Sydney really brings out the meaning of the words vocally and absolutely hammers the ending. "I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home", has a laid back funky feel to it driven by the bass, organ and drums. The guitar gives it a classic blues sound and feel to it. Sydney drives and pushes vocally while crying out the songs lyrics of loneliness and desperation. Solos organ and guitar. "Was It A Whisper?" is an original song. Sydney describes it this way. "If Norman Whitfield and Nina Simone wrote a song together this could be that song". Live, the audiences everywhere love the driving groove to this song. (Footnote: Another version of this song can be seen as a music video on Sydney's website or on YouTube.) This is one of those great songs. "You Gotta Move" is an Elmore James song and a classic blues tune. The drummer has developed a definite groove to this shuffle, combined with the bounce from the organ and the smooth shuffle from the bass makes this a fun number for everyone on and off the stage. Solos organ and guitar. Sydney lays down the law vocally on this number. "Oh Yeah part 2, the Sequel". More in between songs stuff from Sydney and Bebof the guitar player. "See Lyin Woman", is a traditional song from the turn of the 20th century. Sydney created a unique groove and lick for her version of the song. This hard driving arrangement with push from the bass and the drums, combined with Sydney's own version of the words make this a favorite of her audiences. "Tired Of That", is another Koko Taylor number, and is one of Sydney's favorites. This is about a man that has been "Found Out" and the woman is tired of it. This song brings out Sydney's classic blues vocal character and strength. Moaning and groaning through this "telling off", Sydney is backed by a medium slow groove that is laid back but pushes, creeps, and is cool all at the same time. The guitar solo is tasty in the truest blues since. "Just Before Dawn", is one of Sydney's songs and is a perfect song for a live performance. It's about a party and a band that just won't stop. The groove in this number kicks through out. The solos are from the guitar and organ and is the kind song that should never end. "I've Got My Mojo Working" is a Preston Foster tune that Muddy Waters made famous. It's one of Sydney's favorites and appears in every gig she does. Her verison has developed over the years and is now about 10 minutes long and sometimes longer. The funky kind of feel and groove comes from a lick the bass player came up with a few years back. On top of the bass and drums the organ takes that funky feeling further with his bounce and feel. The last part of the song I will skip describing and leave it as a surprise.
|With each new recorded song, with each new album, Sydney Ellis expands
her boundaries and definitions. "Tug River" draws from some of Sydney's favorite
Blues people. Including Willie Dixon, McKinley Morganfield, The Cheatham's,
Jimmy Reed . Sydney also includes one of Edward Ellington's tunes, a Preston
Foster song as well as one of her own songs, Tug River Blues, plus a tune
by Gary Davis and Elmore James. Many of these songs Sydney has been performing
live for over 10 years. With Tug River comes the return of guitar to the
ensemble adding an essential sound and feel to the arrangements of the
"Twenty-Nine Ways"; This is a classic 12 bar shuffle and one of the songs Sydney has been singing since the beginning of her career in 1991. Solos are guitar and tenor sax. The ending comes from Sydney singing it live to audiences. "Spoonfull"; One of Mr. Dixon's best songs. Sydney, through her unique arrangement of it really captures the attitude and feel for this song. "Shake Your Money Maker"; It would be difficult to imagine Blues without Elmore James. It would also be difficult for Sydney to not include at least one Elmore song on an album like this. The adaptation of the lyrics were actually created by Sydney's oldest granddaughter "Sydney" while she was on tour with her grandmother several summers ago. "I've Got To Use My Imagination"; Some songs are just great songs. Gladys Knight brought out the character of this song in her own way, as did Bobby Bland and now Sydney. "Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On"; Kansas City Blues is one of Sydney's favorites and in current times there are none better that the Cheatham's. This is one of their's. "Great Change Since I've Been Born"; This song is a regular in Sydney's Gospel concerts and her Blues concerts. "Tug River Blues"; This was written for and about Sydney's grandmother Hester. She is missed by Sydney everyday. "I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues"; One of Sydney's favorites, this one frequently appears in her live show. "Rollin & Tumblin"; Sydney altered the original lick a little to bring a different feel to the groove on this tune. "You Hurt Me"; Sydney pushes the limits on this hit by Little Willie John. "Baby What You Want Me To Do". This is another song that Sydney has been performing live since the beginning of her singing career. "Just Like I Treat You"; Again, drawing from her live concerts, Sydney loves to sing this song. "I've Got My Mojo Working"; This funk version is Sydney's favorite version of this song. It is also one of the songs she has included in her concert program for years.
"Ask A Woman Who Knows"
|"Ask A Woman Who Knows" BWP1004A
This Bitter Earth (5:53)
In The Dark (5:07)
Ask A Woman Who Knows (4:36)
Don't Explain (7:56)
Willow Weep For Me (4:57)
Lover Man, Oh Where Can You Be (5:09)
Teach Me Tonight (4:59)
Another You (4:57)
You Don't Know What Love (5:14)
Nobody's Fool (9:02)
Total Time 57:50
Sydney Ellis vocals, Hollis Gilmore tenor sax, Joe Völker piano, Manolo Diaz contra bass, Bodo Matzkeit drums. Recorded October 28, 1997 in 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands.
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"Ask A Woman Who Knows", is Sydney's third recording project. As with the prior projects, this one had a very specific objective - concept in mind. Having heard what Sydney and Hollis could do live with a slow ballad, Kevin suggested that a ballads-torch song album be recorded. To bring out the best in songs like these you need two things above anything else. One, a singer who can sing. Two, a soloist who knows how to play a melody line as though he were singing. With Sydney and Hollis, Kevin saw both of these qualities. "Ask A Woman Who Knows", is a collection of some the best Blues and Jazz ballads, Jazz standards ever recorded. Drawing from singers; Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Lou Rawls, Nina Simone, and Ann Rabson this CD represents some of Sydney's and Hollis' best recordings and performances. Sydney and Kevin spent months developing and working on the phrasing for Sydney. The tempos of each song were set based on ease and impact of Sydney's singing. Arrangements were kept simple and to the point. The point being the words and the meaning in each song focusing on melody line, soulfulness in Sydney's tone, the dramatic use of space and timing to accent and impact the melody line and words. Hollis' intros and solos were in the same vain as though he were a second singer on the project. The rhythm section was arranged as to support without crowding Sydney or Hollis, chord voicing was arranged to support and enhance the melody line. Perhaps the hardest part of this project was developing a groove and bounce to some of the songs where in the source recording there was none. All the songs have a 12/8 feel in varying tempos.
"This Bitter Earth", source recording Lou Rawls. Expression with tone
and timber. This is what defines a singer as a "Singer's Singer", Sydney
shows ample talent and ability in the very first number. "In The Dark", source
Nina Simone. This is a very old Lil Green Blues song. It has a very subtle
drive to the groove. If you are used to being pounded on by grooves you might
miss it all together. "Ask A Woman Who Knows", the intro and solo is Hollis
perhaps defining what a tenor sax should sound like. Sydney, again shows
her ability to sustain a note, to accent with tone and phrasing rather than
volume. "Don't Explain", Billie Holiday's incredibly sad song. This is the
slowest song on the CD at about 40 bpm. It is easy to over look how difficult
it is for a rhythm section to play this slow, and when you consider that
this CD was recorded live in the studio in eight hours you can begin to
appreciate how "On it" everyone was that day. There are times in this song
where all you hear is the sustained bass note and then a back beat. Hollis'
solo brings the feeling of the words in this song out like no other tenor
player could. Sydney, once again through tone and phrasing will have you
in tears by the time the song is over. "Willow Weep For Me", this Dinah
Washington song, though you may not recognize it with a groove, may have
been the most challenging number to convert to this CD's concept. Joe
Völker handles the solo on piano and does a tremendous job. "Lover Man,
Oh Where Can You Be", this Billie Holiday song sounds like it was written
for Sydney. Sydney does the intro rebato and a'capella, and it would be almost
impossible to imagine a singer bringing out the feeling better than Sydney
does. Hollis' solo shows his versatility in soloing on a Jazz song. "Teach
Me Tonight", this Jazz standard is a song Sydney has been singing for years.
It is also the number on this CD where Sydney hammers some of the notes and
shows how big her voice can be, but still maintains that discipline that
is required to be a singer of her caliber. "Another You", source song Ann
Rabson. Ann is one of Sydney's true inspirations and is a friend. This slow
Blues song gives Sydney the opportunity to demonstrate her true Blues singing
ability. Sophisticated and subtle, this is a beautiful and sad song. "You
Don't Know What Love Is", source song by Dinah Washington. This was perhaps
the most difficult melody on the CD for Sydney to sing, but Sydney makes
it sound easy. Again, Hollis' solo show his ability to handle a Jazz melody
impeccably. "Nobody's Fool", source song Ann Rabson as part of Saffire. This
satirical Blues tune is about life and love and allows Sydney to sing with
"Attitude and disdain" as she lectures her resolve to an ex-mate. Solos are
Joe on piano and Hollis on tenor.
|"Amazing Grace" BWP1003A
Didn't It Rain (5:58)
Precious Lord (5:07)
Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho (4:02)
Nobody's Fault But Mine (6:05)
Walk All Over God's Heaven (3:12)
Motherless Child (5:50)
Canaan Land (4:35)
Swing Low Sweet Chariot (5:52)
Yes, God Is Real (4:03)
He's Got The Whole World In His Hands (2:32)
Trouble Of The World (4:01)
Amazing Grace (4:11)
Total Time 55:28
Sydney Ellis vocals, Hollis W. Gilmore tenor sax, on piano Frank Tischer tracks 1-8 & Jim Schrode tracks 9-11, Manolo Diaz contra bass, Bodo Matzkeit drums. Recorded October 15 & 17, 1995 in Munich, Germany.
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|"Amazing Grace", is Sydney's second recording project. By the very
nature of the songs, this is a Gospel and Spiritual CD. Why this type of
CD? Sydney's first organized singing experiences were in the youth choir
in her church. So Sydney's beginnings were there. "But why Gospel-Spiritual
CD?" This was the question Sydney and Kevin asked themselves when they first
discussed the possibility. The conclusion they came to was two part: One,
based on what they were hearing in the current G-S music and thinking many
were missing something important in the music. Second, was what they concluded
they could bring to the music. Both Sydney and Kevin had always believed
there exists an inseparable link between Blues and G-S music. So with this
in mind they approached the music not as though they were G-S songs, but
Blues and Classic Jazz songs.
"Didn't It Rain", an up tempo shuffle with solos by Frank and Hollis. The arrangement is distinct by the expansion of the breaks that precede the solos and the length of vamping Sydney does prior to the breaks. Lots of energy. "Precious Lord", is a slow and soulful song. Frank's solo shows respect for the overall feeling of the tune and is well played, Hollis' solo is as soulful as Sydney's singing and blends well with each other. "Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho", is an up tempo, hard diving version with influences from Rosetta Tharpe. They really cut loose with this one. "Nobody's Fault But Mine". This is the second time Sydney has recorded this song. It first appears on the "Goin Home" CD; however, this arrangement is completely different. Slow and very soulful. It brings out the sadness and remorse in the words and the solo from Hollis is one of the many high points on the CD. "Walk All Over God's Heaven", this up tempo shuffle is a real hand clapper. Frank really swings the piano on the breaks and Hollis' solo is classic Blues shuffle phrasing and timing. "Motherless Child", slow, sad and soulful. The intro by Hollis sets the mood for the whole number. Sydney's lower alto range suites this number very, very well. The ending is Hollis doing what he does best, playing a melody line. "Canaan Land", this up tempo, rock drum groove pushes and drives. "Swing Low Sweet Chariot", another slow and mournful number, focusing on the melody, space and feeling. "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands", another hand clapper, in a classic rendition. "Trouble Of The World". The original recording date for this album had been postponed because Sydney had a severe cold, after two hard days of recording the wear and tear on Sydney could be heard in this number. This condition seem to add to the feeling in this song. Rather than clear operatic notes and tones, Sydney, due to the very emotional feeling in the words and the ragged edge her voice was in, enhanced the feeling of extreme sorrow, exhaustion with life and it's troubles. The number as a whole has a very slow dark movement and feeling to it. On just about any other day Sydney could hit clearer and cleaner notes and tones, but the question would then be, "Would it have the same feeling of pain and exhaustion in it?". Sydney will record this song again someday and then we will find out. "Amazing Grace", Sydney, a'capella followed by Hollis, all by his lonesome. It doesn't get anymore basic than that.
This CD achieved it's objectives musically and from an authentic rendition of the music. One note, to date Sydney has recorded about 35 songs. The only shuffles are found on this CD. Sydney and Kevin were very lucky in creating a relationship with Hollis Gilmore, whose contribution to these songs was tremendous.
|"Goin' Home" BWP1002A
Bitch With An Attitude (4:05)
Graveyard Blues (3:07)
Piece Of Crap (5:11)
The Blues Have Got Me Again (4:31)
Trouble In Mind (5:18)
Cryin' The Blues (5:06)
Nobody's Fault But Mine (2:46)
Fireplace Blues (4:08)
Ain't As Bad As You Think (4:35)
You Won't Do Right (4:20)
Total time 51:57
Sydney Ellis vocals, Luther Tatum piano, Steve Hooks clarinet, alto & tenor sax, Mike Parisi guitar, Mike Barry e-bass, Albert Trepangier drums.
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|"Summertime", Gershwin's classic is performed so subtly that it makes you wonder if it's the same band on the rest of the CD. There is a lot of style in this performance of it, and a lot of deep respect for the song in this classy rendition. The Clarinet solo is by Steve Hooks. Sydney's vocals are smooth and lyrical. "Bitch With An Attitude", was written by Sydney and music by Luther Tatum, the piano player. With the very first note you know this is a complainin' song. Sydney's strong Blues vocal ability immediately makes itself known. The slide guitar playing is by Mike Parisi. "Graveyard Blues", is best described as a "Blues Spiritual" lyrics by Sydney, bass playing by Mike Barry. "Piece Of Crap", Luther wrote this hard pounding piece of music. Sydney wrote these lyrics after seeing inspiration via a broken car being pushed from an intersection she was waiting at. Drum lick by Albert Trepangier. "The Blues Have Got Me Again", lyrics by Sydney music by Luther Tatum. This is a sad, powerful song with an outstanding melody line reminiscent of something out of New Orleans. Clarinet solo , Steve Hooks. Piano solo Luther Tatum. Sydney shows the power of tone in this number. "Trouble In Mind", this is "THE" classic Blues song by R. M. Jones. Sydney's version really comes from performing this song. The dynamics in the song and the powerful level that it rises to as well as the sustained size of Sydney's voice makes this one of the CDs strongest Blues numbers. This one comes with goose-bumps. "Cryin' The Blues", lyrics by Sydney, music by Mike Parisi . Melody line Sydney. This medium tempo 12/8 song is about the resolve to change ones life. Solos: guitar Mike Parisi, alto Steve Hooks. Nina Simone, being one of Sydney's inspirations, Sydney wanted to include "Nobody's Fault But Mine", this up tempo version continues to demonstrate Sydney's strong vocal ability. "Fireplace Blues", words by Sydney, music by Luther, is a classic Chicago style slow Blues tune filled with double entendre'. Great guitar work by Mike Parisi. Sydney and Mike take the first solo at the same time working off of each other. The second solo is by Steve Hooks on tenor blowing the roof off with it. "Ain't As Bad As You Think", is a New Orleans style romp, with music by Luther and words by Sydney. This one is about one of Sydney's "Old Men", and what she thinks of him. Solos are by Steve Hooks on clarinet and Luther on piano. The eleventh and last song on this CD is a remake of one of the songs from the experimental cassette, "Coffee House Blues" that Sydney and Kevin first started BWR & P with. Titled, "You Won't Do Right", Sydney bashes one more of her men in this up tempo number. Solo by Mike on guitar. Overall, "Goin Home", presents itself as an outstanding Blues CD with a wide variety of Blues grooves, tempos and of course Sydney's extraordinary voice and singing ability.|
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"The Bushwhacker Blues" a 2004 election year blues song.
Instrumentation: Piano, e-bass, drums, guitar and of
The Bushwhacker Blues
Words and Music by Sydney Ellis
About 60 seconds of " Bushwhackin' "
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