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Greater Tulsa Reporter


Ellicott, Haas Have the Answers

By DANIEL C. CAMERON
Assistant Publisher

BRIAN HAAS & ANNIE ELLICOTT



“Ask Me Now” is cool, smooth, hip; however you want to call it, daddy-o. Annie Ellicott and the Brian Haas Trio have come together with Tulsa-based SRO Productions to release one of the most surprisingly rich jazz albums of our time. The album is loaded with Jazz standards from familiar names like Monk, Ellington and Capote. Yet, the music is as fresh and modern as it comes.

“Ask Me Now” opens with “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise.” The listener is led by hand with a slick baseline from Matt Hayes while Josh Raymer’s cymbals chime the walk. Brian Haas’ first push of the keys puts a slight stall in the step just to let it go again. Annie Ellicott’s voice slips in to tell the tale as if she is just one of the instruments. The listener knows within a few measures this is no ordinary album.

The quartet is an uncannily tight group of musicians and they keep it up all the way through the album. They have not known each other very long, a little more than a year, but this gang is a great match. One would never guess these four have been playing together for such a short amount of time.

Ellicott and Haas met early in 2008 at a series of shows being billed as “Brian Haas and the Masked Avenger” held at Tsunami Sushi in Tulsa. The shows were basically Haas playing with a bunch of other musicians. The lineup changed from night to night, even from song to song. Ellicott joined in with her voice right away. She started off doing some Wayne Shorter instrumental numbers, using her voice as an instrument. “I guess I made a really good impression on him” Ellicott says speaking of Haas. “He started putting me on the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey gigs.” Soon the two had duos lined up, were playing more frequently and becoming closer as friends. “We love each other’s company and working together. We have a great synergy,” adds Ellicott.

Haas and Ellicott had a show lined up in Gilcrease Museum’s “Third Tuesday Jazz” series in March of 2008. Tina Terry of SRO Productions was doing the booking for the series at the time and had to miss this particular evening, so Jon Terry filled in. It took three songs and Terry was blown away. He knew then he had to get this dynamic duo in the studio. So the three got together and decided to record a demo album with JFJO’s drummer Josh Raymer and bassist Matt Hayes. They were to bill themselves as Annie Ellicott and the Brian Haas Trio.

The group settled on Eric Schabacker’s magical Winterwood Recording Studios near Eureka Springs, Ark., a wooden cabin built into the cliffs overlooking Beaver Lake.

Schabacker was the engineer for the recording and original member of JFJO, bassist Reed Mathis handled the mix.

Remarkably, the whole album was recorded live and nearly every track was recorded in one take. The entire session only took two days. “We just kept cranking out these lively, polished sounding takes,” comments Ellicott “so we ended up recording 15 or 20 songs.” They wound up with enough material to turn it into an album. And here it is, like those stories of old jazz lore; happenstance and music coming together once again with a wonderful gift.

Ellicott’s timeless voice and Haas’ unique playing have produced a stupendous album. These two together have potential to make an impact on jazz globally. “Ask Me Now” harkens shades of days gone by, but has a very contemporary sound.

Ellicott will be playing Aug. 13 for Utica Square’s “Fifth Night” concert series. The show is free admission and will start at 7p.m.

“Ask Me Now” can be purchased at the show or online at www.annieellicott.com or www.srobands.com.

Updated 08-24-2009

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