Don Ellis: How Time Passes (1960) Candid/ Barnaby


Selection: How Time Passes (Ellis)


Don Ellis (trumpet) Ron Carter (bass) Charlie Persip (drums)Jaki Byard (piano) Engineer: Bob d’Orleans, recorded at Nola Penthouse Sound Studios, New York, October 4 and 5, 1960


Labelled as “Third Stream Jazz”, How Time Passes is Ellis’s debut recording as leader, with a pedigree rhythm section including former room-mate Byard, stretching the boundaries of bop-based jazz and experimenting with time and tempo through accelerandos and ritardandos. Brubeck wasn’t the only one experimenting with unorthodox approaches to meter.

Seeking to establishing himself as an unorthodox modernist, according to a biographer of Ellis:

“While touring Scandinavia in 1963, Ellis’s performances in Stockholm  included short theatre pieces called jazz “happenings.” These performances mixed conventional jazz performances with theatrics such as inflating/bursting paper bags, crawling under, pouring salt on, and banging on the lid of the piano, as well as using paint brushes on the piano strings, and playing cards on the stage. In one “happening” titled “The Death,” Ellis instructed the ensemble to just stand next to an out-of-tune piano for six minutes”.

How very Sixties, beard-stroking avant-garde “jazz happenings”.  I expect Stockholm’s hip Swedes probably loved that –  Sven says: ho ho ho, mycket tredje ström, ho ho ho.

According to Down Beat magazine in 1961, Ellis was “an ultra-modernist who could develop into the most important brass soloist since Miles Davis” He was awarded Downbeat voted International Jazz Critics award for best New Star. A later work,  Electric Bath (1967) was nominated for a Grammy award and also earned an “Album of the Year” award from Down Beat magazine. Seems Downbeat were pretty upbeat about Don Ellis.

Vinyl: Barnaby Candid Jazz: BR 5020 reissue of Candid CJM 9004 (1978) 121gm.

That label! Salvador Dali meets Vincent Van Gogh for a surreal picnic.



Collectors Corner

I normally frown on reissues but Candid titles from 1961 are not something you see every day, and my earlier encounter with Barnaby Records  marked them out as a little different,  “vintage US reissues” with very acceptable sound quality, and a tad more lively than the widely-available Phonoco 1985 reissues, which I don’t rate. Ebay served this Barnaby up, no problem, and priced in single figures, so no complaints, other than embarrassment –  a record label named after “popular” singer Andy Willliam’s dog, Mr Barnaby.


Now there’s a dog on a piano, very Third Stream, woof woof.

7 thoughts on “Don Ellis: How Time Passes (1960) Candid/ Barnaby

  1. I’d forgotten all about seeing/hearing this here — how strange. And yet last Saturday I picked up a cheap 80s reissue thinking, Hmm, I’ve never seen or heard this – but for seven quid it’s worth a punt, and I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s damn good. It reminds me of something – slightly – but I can’t for the life of me think what. I’ll play it again over the weekend.

  2. Am I the only one who thinks the cover painting looks a bit like a penis?


    …Dunno, couldn’t think of anything more creative to add to the discussion this time.

  3. Can’t really say I’m very familiar with Don Ellis. The track featured here today however sounds just fine; I’m really curious what the b-side is all about, knowing that it’s one entire side bearing the title “Improvisational Suite No.1”. Maybe elaborate on it a wee bit?

    • From
      (Ellis) experimented with the use of a tone row as the basis of jazz composition in “Improvisational Suite #1.” According to Gunther Schuller’s liner notes on this piece: “The SUITE uses twelve-tone rows only as a point of departure. It does not develop the row material along orthodox methods. Formally, the SUITE consists of a series of loosely strung together sections, alternating between free cadenzas and strict time improvisations. Don’s own statement of intent: ‘to create an extended piece which would be almost totally improvised, which would sound new and fresh each time, and which would present a variety of moods and levels of density and intensity, but which would be highly unified structurally.”

      I couldn’t have said it better myself.
      I’ll go listen again

  4. I never thought of Ellis as a third streamer. his music was certainly ahead of his time and not Free.
    as a leader I would recommend: New Ideas, New Jazz 8257 and Essence, Pacific Jazz 55
    not to be forgotten: three George Russell.
    Ezzthetics, Riverside 375;
    The Stratus Seekers, Riverside 412
    The Outer View, Riverside 440
    New, modern 50 years ago, yet fresh today.

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