“Jazz music is America's past and its potential, summed up and sanctified and accessible to anybody who learns to listen to, feel, and understand it. The music can connect us to our earlier selves and to our better selves-to-come. It can remind us of where we fit on the time line of human achievement, an ultimate value of art. ”
— Winton Marsalis
BRIEF DECRIPTION & BIO
Ellis White - Polyphemus Records Recording Artist
Ellis White is a Contemporary Jazz international recording artist based out of Saint Augustine FL offering the sounds of Smooth Jazz with a Latin flair, Bluesy undertone and a Funky vibe.
As a recording artist with Polyphemus Records, he has performed on festival stages that included artists such as Spyro Gyra, Marion Meadows, Bob Baldwin, Chris Godber, Chick Corea, Blake Aaron, Euge Groove, Maysa, The Rippingtons and the Commodores among others.
Fans of Ellis White’s longtime Jacksonville, FL based ensemble Catch The Groove will vibe instantly with the veteran guitarist’s long awaited debut solo single, “Keeping It Real,” an instantly infectious, buoyant and freewheeling track that captures all the playful, funky and furious energy the hard-working seven piece ensemble was famous for, but with more emphasis on White’s hypnotic, ultra-melodic and crackling electric guitar.
His CD released in October 2017 titled Smilin' In Paradise received significant airplay, great reviews and made it on to the major radio charts with our single Shaken Not Stirred spending months on the Billboard Top 30 chart in 2018 reaching a high of #17 and their track When I See Your Smile spent three weeks at #1 on the smoother jazz chart in the UK and spent 8 months in the Top 20.
The unique and hipster origin story of how Ellis White’s longtime Jacksonville, FL based contemporary urban jazz ensemble got its name says it all about the veteran guitarist’s dynamic and infectious vibe and approach to contemporary jazz. Back in 2010, the six piece (sometimes more) group was hard at work on songs to incorporate into their increasingly eclectic live set. One day during rehearsal, White called out “Hey, did you catch that groove I just did?” His bandmates, since dubbed Catch The Groove, not only caught it, they shared it nonstop over hundreds of packed shows at popular jazz venues, jazz and arts festivals, corporate functions and private and public events throughout the region for the next decade.
Catch The Groove’s successful run included the release of the independent 2017 EP Smilin’ in Paradise, whose Top 20 Billboard charting single “Shaken Not Stirred” was written and produced by #1 smooth jazz guitarist Nils and featured Nils, Darryl Williams and Oliver C. Brown.
Though the pandemic brought the hard-working band’s non-stop schedule to an abrupt halt, as early as 2019, White was contemplating an eventual breakout as a solo artist – a goal the multi-talented composer/musician achieves powerfully and impactfully with the release of his explosive (and perfectly titled) solo single “Keeping It Real.”
A perfect summer soundtrack tune, the infectious high octane track was produced by Trammell Starks, whose decades-long resume includes legendary R&B vocalists Jennifer Holliday and Patti Labelle, as well as popular smooth jazz saxophonist Michael J. Thomas. While it’s a strong showcase for White’s inventive rhythmic, melodic and improvisational guitar playing, “Keeping It Real” also borrows a bit from the uniquely democratic aesthetic of CTG. White creates a fascinating musical conversation throughout with saxophonist Sam Skelton and there are exciting sections later in the song for Starks’ tropical-tinged keyboard solo and a snappy bass solo by Sam Sims. The White-composed song also features drummer Louis Newsom, percussionist Barbara Martin, with programming by Starks and Ellis White.
“Keeping It Real’ has the kind of energy and guitar centric sound I had always wanted to instill in the music of Catch The Groove, reflecting exactly where I am today as an artist,” says White. “It’s basically me expressing the reality that I’m doing my solo thing and keeping it as real and honest as possible. When I wrote it, I envisioned incorporating the sax and also the underlying percussion throughout. Trammell helped me formalize those ideas and put a flow to them. He brought great ideas for the arrangement and how best to use the horn element. My goal in working with a producer was not just having a yes man but someone who had great ideas who could take my music to the next level – and Trammel truly delivered.”
A native of Portland, ME, White – who cites his chief influences as Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana - has been playing guitar since he was 15 and started a classic rock and blues cover band in 1988. Though he’s lived in Florida for many years, remarkably that group is still going strong. He studied with prominent guitarist John Shaffer and later played in blues and soft rock outfits that opened for renowned artists like John Cafferty and the late Warren Zevon.
Moving to the Sunshine State in 2005, White performed solo and with a duo for several years before catching the contemporary jazz bug later in the decade. His wife, a longtime jazz fan, took him to a smooth jazz festival in 2009, where he saw performances by legends Lee Ritenour and Spyro Gyra. White immediately connected with the funky energy and style of the music, as well as the room to “breathe and improvise.” He also appreciated the compositional freedom to venture away from the tight verse-chorus structure of mainstream pop and rock.
Inspired by a fresh creative epiphany, White decided to expand his musical vision and started advertising for musicians. Through a careful process of auditioning and interviewing, he put together the amazing ensemble that became Catch The Groove. Their serendipitous, evolving chemistry created explosive live shows where each member’s talent was showcased via prominent lead lines, solos and tandem melodies with the others.
Beyond simply writing, recording and performing incredible music blending his favorite genres of contemporary jazz, blues and Latin (sometimes with a classical guitar feeling), the guitarist believes that the talent and persistence that led the band to its years-long run of success will be a major determining factor in launching and sustaining a thriving solo career. He hopes to work with some of his Catch The Groove cohorts in live shows in the future.
“I’m excited about launching this phase of my career with ‘Keeping It Real’,” White says. “I’m currently collaborating and lining up shows with other artists, and it’s great to know there’s a buzz around the music I’m creating now. I’m feeling a great sense of momentum and truly believe I will be catching those grooves for a long, long time.” His democratic approach to performing is in full effect during Ellis's live shows, where he shines the spotlight on the other talent on stage with him.
His democratic approach to performing is in full effect during Ellis's live shows, where he shines the spotlight on the other talent on stage with him. This energy is on display via prominent lead lines, solos and tandem melodies with other players. Some songs begin with the rhythm section jamming prior to the sax or Ellis's guitar coming in for a few solo bars before the trumpet begins doubling with one of them and the rest of the band kicks in. The variety and unexpected surprises are part of the fun and appeal.
FOR BOOKINGS - CONTACT CTG CONCERT PROMOTIONS @ 1-904-524-5030.