Ellis Larkins

Ellis Larkins
Born (1923-05-15)May 15, 1923
Origin Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Died September 30, 2002(2002-09-30) (aged 79)
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Piano
Associated acts Ella Fitzgerald, Ruby Braff, Eartha Kitt, Chris Connor, Beverly Kenney

Ellis Larkins (May 15, 1923 – September 30, 2002) was an American jazz pianist born in Baltimore, Maryland, perhaps best known for his two recordings with Ella Fitzgerald: the albums Ella Sings Gershwin (1950) and Songs in a Mellow Mood (1954).[1] He was also the leader in the first solo sides by singer Chris Connor on her album Chris (1954).

Larkins was the first African American to attend the Peabody Conservatory of Music, a well-known institute in Baltimore. He began his professional playing career in New York City after moving there to attend the Juilliard School. Following school Larkins performed jazz piano with Billy Moore and Edmond Hall. He recorded with Coleman Hawkins, Mildred Bailey, and Dicky Wells in the 1940s. In the 1950s he recorded with Ella Fitzgerald, Ruby Braff, and Beverly Kenney. His 1960s work included recordings or performances with Eartha Kitt, Joe Williams, Helen Humes, Georgia Gibbs and Harry Belafonte.

Though he was best known as an accompanist, Larkins recorded several solo albums in the 1950s. In the 1970s he performed regularly at several New York venues, including Gregory's, a small bar on the Upper East Side.


As leader

Year recorded Title Label Notes
Lost in the Wood Stanyan Trio, with Al McKibbon (bass), Panama Francis (drums)
1952 Blues in the Night Decca Solo piano; DL 5391, subtitled The Melodies of Harold Arlen
1954 Perfume and Rain Storyville Solo piano[2]
1956? Manhattan at Midnight Decca Trio, with Art Ryerson (guitar), Beverly Peer (bass)[3]
1958? Blue and Sentimental Decca Some tracks duo, with Joe Benjamin (bass); some tracks quartet[3]
1977 A Smooth One Black & Blue Trio, with George Duvivier (bass), J. C. Heard (drums)[4]
Ellis Larkins DGTL Some tracks solo piano; some tracks trio, with Bill Popp (bass), Jackie Williams (drums)[5]
1992 Ellis Larkins at Maybeck Concord Jazz Solo piano; in concert[6]

As sideman

With Ruby Braff

  • Ellis Larkins & Ruby Braff: Duets Volume 1, (Vanguard)
  • Ellis Larkins & Ruby Braff: Duets Volume 2, (Vanguard)
  • Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins: 2 Part Inventions in Jazz, (Vanguard/Pye)
  • Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins: The Grand Reunion, (Chiaroscuro)
  • Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins: Calling Berlin, Vol. 1 (Arbors)
  • Ruby Braff and Ellis Larkins: Calling Berlin, Vol. 2 (Arbors)

With Ella Fitzgerald

With Sonny Stitt

With Joe Williams

  • That Holiday Feelin (Verve, 1990)

With Anita Kert Ellis

  • A Legend Sings (Red Onion, 1979)


  1. ^ "Jazz Profiles – Ellis Larkins". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
  2. ^ Dryden, Ken. "Ellis Larkins: Perfume and Rain". AllMusic. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Yanow, Scott. "Ellis Larkins: Manhattan at Midnight". AllMusic. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  4. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. p. 866. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  5. ^ Dryden, Ken. "Ellis Larkins: Ellis Larkins". AllMusic. Retrieved June 15, 2019.
  6. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (1996). The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD (3rd ed.). Penguin. p. 788. ISBN 978-0-14-051368-4.

External links