Art Ellefson was born in Canada in 1932 and took up the tenor sax at sixteen after trying several other instruments. He came to England in 1952 and had a spell with Carl Barriteau from 1952 to 1955 and then Harry Hayes, Roy Fox and Frank Weir before joining Vic Lewis from 1955 to 1957. In the late 1950s he was with the Allan Ganley Quartet and the Allan Ganley - Ronnie Ross Jazzmakers. He toured Britain with Woody Herman's Anglo-American Herd in April 1959. Rejoined Vic Lewis for tour of USA, then co-led a group with Johnny Scott before joining Johnny Dankworth in 1960 and was often in a quintet and sextet led by Ronnie Ross.
Despite being a very good jazz musician he did not receive the recognition his talent probably warranted and after a period of freelancing returned to Canada in 1970 although he continued to make playing visits to the UK and USA.
The discography below contains full details of the small group recordings that Art Ellefson made plus 'one off' big bands. He made big band records with the Johnny Dankworth Orchestra and the Vic Lewis Orchestra where solo opportunities were more limited, and a link is given to the detail of these records.
Vic Lewis and his Orchestra - February 2nd, 1955 (Philips) - recording details: Vic Lewis
Vic Lewis and his Orchestra - September 26th, 1956 (Decca) - recording details: Vic Lewis
The Don Savage Seven - September 3rd, 1957 (Nixa NJE1048) (JM0758)
Bert Courtley (tp), Don Savage (as), Art Ellefson (ts), Bernie George (bs), Bobby Heath (p), Bill Stark (b), Art Morgan (d).
Midnight Sun/All The Things You Are/There Will Never Be Another You/First Edition.
Art Ellefson Quartet - December 10th, 1957 (Nixa NJE1052) (JM0958)
Art Ellefson (cl and saxes), Johnny Clark (p), Bill Stark (b), Andy White (d).
Opus Mentis/Let Yourself Go*/Mile-a-minim/Mad About The Boy.
(*Castle 3CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)
Ken Moule's Music - February 11th/13th, 1958 (Decca LK4261)
Leon Calvert (tp), George Chisholm (tb), Dougie Robinson (as), Bob Efford, Art Ellefson(or Johnny Scott) (ts), Ronnie Ross (bs), Ken Moule (p), Arthur Watts (b), Allan Ganley (d).
The Boy Friend*/Fishin' The Blues*/Will O'-The Wisp*/Poor Arthur*/Blue Grass*.
(*Vocalion CD - Jazz At Toad Hall/Ken Moule Arranges For)
(*Real Gone Jazz 4 CD set - Ronnie Ross Seven Classic Albums plus bonus tracks)
(*Real Gone Jazz 4 CD set - Don Rendell Six Classic Albums plus bonus tracks)
Allan Ganley Quartet - August, 1958 (Saga 7010)
Art Ellefson (as), Stan Jones (p), Stan Wasser (b), Allan Ganley (d).
Open Country*/Beaulieu*/The High Priest*/Blue Skies*.
(*Acrobat CD - Allan Ganley: The Complete Quartet & Jazzmakers Session 1957-59)
Kenny Baker and his Band - February 23rd/24th, 1959 (Columbia 33S1140)
Kenny Baker, Albert Hall, Stan Reynolds, Ronnie Simmons (tp), Eddie Harvey, Ken Wray (tb), Ray Premru (bs-tp, bs-tb), Mike Senn (as), Don Rendell, Art Ellefson (ts), Johnny Scott (fl,ts), Ronnie Ross (bs), Bill Le Sage (vib), Norman Stenfalt (p), Jack Seymour (b), Jackie Dougan (d).
Blowin' Up A Storm/More Than You Know/Call Of The Flute/Cambridge Blues/Influential Character/Jazzmen/Threesome/ Sunrise Serenade/Too Cool For The Blues*.
(*Castle 3CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)
This was a combined US/UK band that Woody Herman put together for a European concert tour...
Woody Herman's Anglo-American Herd - April, 1959 (?)
Nat Adderley, Les Condon, Bert Courtley, Renauld Jones, Kenny Wheeler (tp), Bill Harris, Eddie Harvey, Ken Wray (tb), Woody Herman (cl,as), Art Ellefson, Don Rendell, Ronnie Ross, Johnny Scott (saxes), Charlie Byrd (g), Vince Guaraldi (p), Keeter Betts (b), Jimmy Cambell (d).
The Preacher/Like Some Blues Man, Like/From Pillar To Post/Four Brothers/Opus De Funk/Early Autumn/Playgirl Stroll/Wood Chopper's Ball.
Vic Lewis and his All Stars - June, 1959 (Ember CJS807)
Dickie McPherson, Jimmy Deuchar, Leon Calvert, Gordon Turnbill(Kenny Wheeler) (tp), Keith Christie (tb), Roy East (as), Vic Ash (cl,ts) Art Ellefson (ts), Ronnie Ross (bs), Terry Shannon (p), Arthur Watts (b), Allan Ganley (d), Vic Lewis (dir).
The Beaulie Suite/Selections From The Springbok And American Suite.
The Jazzmakers was co-led by Ronnie Ross and Allan Ganley, the album below was recorded in New York and subsequently issued in the UK by Ember...
The Jazzmakers - September 23rd, 1959 (Atlantic)
Art Ellefson (ts), Ronnie Ross (as,bs), Stan Jones (p), Stan Wasser (b), Allan Ganley (d).
Two Hoots/The Real Funky Blues^/It's A Big Wide Wonderful World^/How Long Has This Been Going On^/Pitiful Pearl^/Blues For The Five Of Us^/The Country Squire^#/I Won't Fret If I Don't Get The Blues Anymore^/The Moonbather^/Suddenly It's Spring/Blues For June (unissued)/Cherry (unissued).
(^Collectables CD - Groove, Funk, Soul) six other titles on this CD are by Joe Castro
(#Fantastic Voyage 2 CD set - Ember Jazz - The Flamingo Connection)
(^ Fresh Sound CD - The Jazz Makers / The Jazz Five - The Hooter)
(^Acrobat CD - Allan Ganley: The Complete Quartet & Jazzmakers Session 1957-59)
Vic Lewis and his All Stars - April 10th, 1960 (DJM)
Dickie McPherson, Jimmy Deuchar, Leon Calvert, Gordon Turnbill (tp), Keith Christie (tb), Roy East (as,fl), Vic Ash (cl,ts) Art Ellefson (ts), Ronnie Ross (bs), Terry Shannon (p), Ray Dempsey (g), Arthur Watts (b), Allan Ganley (d), Vic Lewis (dir).
Port Of Spain/Little Darlin'.
Johnny Dankworth Orchestra - c1960/1 (Big Band International) - recording details: Johnny Dankworth
Johnny Dankworth Orchestra - July 1st and 5th, 1960 (Roulette/Columbia) - recording details: Johnny Dankworth
Johnny Dankworth Orchestra - 1960 (Columbia) - recording details: Johnny Dankworth
Johnny Dankworth Orchestra - 1961 (Columbia) - recording details: Johnny Dankworth
Johnny Dankworth Orchestra with featured guests - July 29th and 31st, August 7th, and October 4th, 1963 (Fontana) - recording details: Johnny Dankworth
Johnny Dankworth Orchestra with featured guests - October 9th and 28th, November 2nd and 10th, 1964 (Fontana) - recording details: Johnny Dankworth
Kenny Clare / Ronnie Stephenson Big Band - August 11th, 1966 (Drum spectacular - Columbia TWO146)
Greg Bowen, Leon Calvert, Stan Roderick, Kenny Wheeler (tp), Laddie Busby, Nat Peck, Johnny Marshall (tb), Jackie Armstrong (b-tb), Douggie Robinson, Ray Warleigh (as), Art Ellefson, Ronnie Scott (ts), Harry Klein (bs), Stan Tracey (p), Lennie Bush (b), Kenny Clare, Ronnie Stephenson (d).
Drum Spectacular*/Caravan*/Portrait Of Elvin*/Talkin' About Drums*.
(*Vocalion CD - Big Band Spectacular / Drum Spectacular)
On February 9th and 10th, 1976 Ellefson recorded an album at "Mother Necessity Jazz workshop" in Toronto, Canada, for the Canadian CBC label. Titled Kenny Wheeler Quintet, the group was made up of : Kenny Wheeler (tp,flhrn), Art Ellefson (ts), Gary Williamson (el-p), Dave Young (b,b-g), Marty Morrel (d). The resulting record was not released in the UK...
After his return to Canada Art Ellefson recorded an album in 1981 for the Canadian label CBC titled The Art Ellefson Trio. The trio comprised: Art Ellefson (ts), Peter Leitch (g), Dave Young (b). The resulting record was not released in the UK...
Another album was recorded in 1985 for the Canadian label Unisson titled The Art Ellefson Quartet featuring Tommy Flanagan. The quartet comprised: Art Ellefson (ts), Tommy Flanagan (p), Dave Young (b), Barry Elmes. The resulting record was not released in the UK...