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ELLEN STARR
vocalist, jazz pianist, arranger, composer

Born in Brooklyn, the multifaceted Ellen Starr has long been a mainstay of the New York jazz scene. She has performed in many of New York top jazz clubs including 55Bar and Sweet Rhythm, leading her own quartet featuring Joel Frahm on tenor sax, Alvester Garnett on drums, and Paul Beaudry on bass. Her original tune "Starrburst" was recorded by Houston Person on "Blue Odyssey" for Prestige Records, with Cedar Walton on piano. The song has been published in the "Real Easy Book, Tunes for Intermediate Improvisers, Vol.2," by the Stanford Jazz Workshop (Sher Music).

Ellen began her performance career as a jazz pianist and singer, but became active in the worlds of pop music, radio and TV advertising. She wrote an award winning Pepsi jingle, "Pepsi People Feeling Free," later used in Spike Lee's film "Crooklyn." She also arranged an album for Aretha Franklin for Columbia Records, "Today I Sing the Blues."

Working in New York's recording studios as composer, arranger, pianist and jingle singer alongside such people as Barry Manilow, Valerie Simpson and Melissa Manchester, she arranged a tune for Ronnie Dyson that reached the charts at #8. The song was "Why Can't I Touch You?" from the musical "Hair." She also played in the pit orchestra in such Broadway musicals as "Promises, Promises," and "Hair."

Ellen has composed scores for two Off-Broadway musicals: (1) "One Step at A Time," music by Ellen Starr and Kevin Gavin; lyrics and book by Kevin Gavin and Wayne Lammers; (2) "Upon My Word," music by Ellen Starr, lyrics and book by Alec Coiro. Both shows have been produced and performed multiple times.

Ellis is a graduate of Oberlin College, where she majored in music. She studied jazz with Stanley Cowell, Barry Harris and Kenny Barron. Recently, she relocated to the San Francisco Bay area, where she now performs, records and teaches. To mark the occasion of her cross-country move, Dancing Spirit Records has just released Ellen's debut jazz CD, Lucky People, in which she is featured as vocalist, pianist, arranger and composer.

 

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