This event has now passed.Few musicians get to celebrate their 75th birthday knee-deep in a new project charting the history of funk and its impact on music. Even fewer are still actively touring the world with their own bands or working in new collaborations. But after some 55 eventful years as a musician, bandleader, arranger, and composer Pee Wee Ellis can claim all those things.
His remarkable story spans six decades, starting in the 50s when he took himself and his sax off to New York City to find his heroes Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and the great Sonny Rollins (who became his teacher and mentor.) A promising career leading jazz bands in Florida took an unexpected turn in 1965 when he joined James Brown’s sensational Revue, playing alto. Within six months he was a bandleader, musical director and co-writer with James Brown. ‘Cold Sweat’, widely acknowledged as the first true funk record, and many of JB’s hits for the next four years were the fruit of this collaboration.