JJJJJerome Ellis is a stuttering, Afro-Caribbean composer, poet, and performer. His works are invitations to healing, transcendence, communion, and deep listening. Through an interdisciplinary practice that focuses on oral storytelling, improvisation, and the interrelations between speech, silence, disability, and religion, he’s collaborated with choreographers, rappers, playwrights, booksellers, typographers, podcasters, toddlers, and filmmakers. Mr. Ellis’ work has been presented or developed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, Lincoln Center, MASS MoCA, and WKCR. He is a writer in residence at Lincoln Center Theater. Born in Connecticut to a Jamaican mother and a Grenadian father, he was raised in Virginia Beach, VA.
As a composer Ellis was awarded a 2015 Fulbright Fellowship to research traditional samba performance and write new music in Salvador, Brazil. There he performed with local musicians at Teatro Gamboa Nova and Feminaria Musical at the Universidade Federal da Bahia. Recent sound design/composing credits include Help (The Shed), Passage (Soho Repertory Theatre), the Radical Craft Design Salon (TED Conferences), and LAB RAT by A$AP Rocky (Sotheby’s/YouTube). From 2008 to 2011, Ellis was resident composer and saxophonist with pianist Trudy Silver at 5C Cafe and Cultural Center in New York City. As a jazz saxophonist, he has performed with Joseph Daley, Aaron Scott, and Shayna Dulberger. Ellis earned his B.A. in music theory and ethnomusicology from Columbia University, studying ear training and counterpoint with pianist and composer Ramin Arjomand.
His diverse body of work includes: contemplative soundscapes using saxophone, flute, dulcimer, electronics, and vocals; scores for plays and podcasts; albums combining spoken word with ambient and jazz textures; theatrical explorations involving live music and storytelling; and music-video-poems that seek to transfigure historical archives.
Pitchfork – The Clearing Review
The Wire – Interview: Rushing Into The Clearing
The Guardian – Interview: Artist and stutterer JJJJJerome Ellis