Puppet Mischief, Brooklyn-based saxophonist John Ellis’s second album with his New Orleans-based band Double-Wide, continues the former New Orleanian’s love affair with the Big Easy, drawing inspiration from the rich vein of music the city has given the world, while also taking cues, in Ellis’ own words, from “carnivals, state fairs, children laughing, clowns and dancing.” Marking his debut on the ObliqSound label, the recording features Ellis with Brian Coogan on organ, Matt Perrine on sousaphone and Jason Marsalis on drums, plus special guests Gregoire Maret on harmonica and Alan Ferber on trombone.
The release of Puppet Mischief marks saxophonist John Ellis’s debut with the ObliqSound label, and follows up one of the busiest years in his career. In that time, he did everything from accompanying a diverse array of musicians ranging from Sting to Mos Def to the Cuban drummer Ignacio Berroa, touring Europe with the John Patitucci Trio and other artists and, most significantly, debuted The Ice Siren, Ellis’ hour-long through-composed narrative composition for string quartet, tuba, percussion, guitar, vibes, winds and two singers. The piece, a collaborative effort with playwright Andy Bragen, debuted at the Jazz Gallery in New York in May 2009. The prior year, Ellis made his first ObliqSound guest appearance, on Lionel Loueke, Massimo Biolcati and Ferenc Nemeth’s collaborative album Gilfema + 2, and already in the new year, he also glimmers as a special guest on Olivier Manchon’s debut Orchestre de Chambre Miniature – Volume 1.
What’s they’re saying about Puppet Mischief:
“Ellis has a knack for infusing that subtle New Orleans undercurrent into just about any flavor he is concocting…’Puppet Mischief is a fine, fine statement of decadent delights.”
– Glide Magazine
“Puppet Mischief layers in John’s New Orleans music influence with his childhood experiences of carnivals, state fairs, and clowns to create an assemblage of music that will have you smiling, laughing, and from time-to-time scratching your head…a fun filled, frantic, exciting, and rewarding day under the Big Top with John Ellis & Double-Wide.”
– Luxury Experience
“Puppet Mischief is one to satisfy fans of the band, and brings something a little different to modern jazz while still referring back to its roots.”
– All Music Guide
“The music is as interesting, compelling and fascinating as the albumâ€™s
title suggests…wonderfully inventive tunes that are skillfully
brought to life by this dynamic ensemble.”
– New Orleans Music Online
“Puppet Mischief is a spellbinding combination of classic soul and funk, modern jam band groove and freewheeling improvisation.”
“”John Ellis soars. There’s something about his fingerpainting lyricism, combined with his unique massage of his attack, that would be right at home working on standards. But he decides instead to write peg-legged settings for his own band, and also acquits himself in front of an unconventional chamber string ensemble. We’re richer for it.”
-NPR’s A Blog Supreme (from “The Name Game: John Ellis and Olivier Manchon”)