Charlie Ellis has been bringing the gift of jazz to Blowing Rock for decades. From venues like the Jazz Parlor to P.B. Scotts, and now at the historic Green Park Inn, performances by Mr. Ellis and the Charlie Ellis Trio are always memorable. Ellis is a great solo performer, though many have experienced his work as part of an ensemble. He has played beside such well-known musicians as Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Mann, and Bill Hanna, and says that sitting down with other musicians always has been a very enjoyable and satisfying experience. He revels in the sheer appreciation of the talent of other performers, as well as the never-ending opportunity to learn. Mr. Ellis recounts the environment of the Jazz Parlor, and constantly playing with other musicians there, as one of the most rewarding times of his life.
Ellis has recorded eight studio albums, four of those with The Charlie Ellis Trio. Be sure to catch the final performance of the current Charlie Ellis Trio on January 27 at 7pm at Green Park Inn! The group will perform inside the Chestnut Grille, and dinner reservations are available for seating. The performance is part of Blowing Rock WinterFest, and will be recorded for an upcoming live album. The Charlie Ellis Trio features Ellis on piano, Mike Barlowe on drums and Rick Stapleton on bass.
The Blowing Rocket interviewed Charlie Ellis to find out more about his career and the history of the Trio, and about the legendary Jazz Parlor, owned and operated by Ellis at The Martin House for ten years. Here are some highlights:
Mr. Ellis on getting started:
“I was eight years old [when I started playing the piano]. I took lessons. Apparently, my mother, early on, knew that I had a real interest in piano, because if I got near a piano I had to touch it.”
On learning from other musicians:
“[Dave Blume] said, ‘When you get a chance to sit and play with people who are better than you are, sit down and play with them. That’s how you learn.’ I never forgot that.”
On the Jazz Parlor in Blowing Rock:
“We had the Jazz Parlor from 1972 to 1982. It was in the Martin House. It was what I called a listening room… You never knew what musician was going to walk in—a guitarist, a horn player, another keyboardist. And that was always such a treat.”