An Extraordinary Talent
Who is Lance Ellis?
A good way to go about explaining the life and experiences of a New Orleans musician would be to view it through his eyes as a student, under the watchful command of Ellis Marsalis. Feel all the spirit of a U.S. mailman delivering an instrumental introduction of the Louis Armstrong postage stamp. Listen to the intensity of a tenor sax player following in the footsteps of the late, great saxophonist Charles Miller. Lance Ellis is this musician.
Lance, a former New Orleans postal worker, felt the musical spirit from a young age, learning jazz improvisation techniques from Ellis Marsalis and playing in Mardi Gras parades with his high school and college marching bands. Later, while working for the U.S. Post Office, he and his twin brother Larry both performed with the Postal Service Jazz Ensemble, and Lance helped organize the presentation ceremony for the Louis Armstrong commemorative postage stamp. During this time, moonlighting on Bourbon Street and riverboats allowed him to master his instrument and to retire to pursue music full time - and there’s been no looking back!
Lance has shared the stage with and has lent his unique talents to the legendary 70’s funk/soul band WAR, the original Meters and Neville Brothers, Mem Shannon, keyboardist Art Neville, Funky Meter bassist George Porter Jr., and Zydeco rhythm & blues master Chubby Carrier to name a few. In addition to his two solo CD's, he appears on a number of other recordings by his fellow New Orleans musicians.
Besides recording and performing in the U.S., Lance has had the good fortune of touring England, Germany, France, Holland, Austria, and Canada, contributing to history-making shows with WAR and Chubby Carrier. From funk and blues to jazz and zydeco, Lance has played with some of the best.
In addition to his musical abilities, Lance has appeared in various commercials and print ads. Lance is the consummate entertainer; he has a vibe that makes everyone smile. His unmatched musical talent is only enhanced by his onstage presence, involving the audience and making the music come alive.
Lance Ellis Resume
Lance Ellis has had roles in movies and has appeared in several commercials for local and national companies
Movie Roles and Appearances:
- • Runaway Jury – Movie
- • Ray – Movie
- • Treme- HBO Series
- • Crossroads - Movie
Commercials: (Print and Television)
- • Zatarain’s –Print and Television
- • Chinet –Television
- • Harrahs Casino – Print Advertisement
- • Rooms to Go – Television
- • Popeyes – Television
- • Cabela’s – Television
In addition to recording several CDs under his own name, Lance has contributed to the recordings of other musicians and bands.
- • George Porter Jr and The Runnin Partners– “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be”
- • Mem Shannon – “A Cab Drivers Blues”
- • Lowrider Band – “9 to 5” , “Ordinary Man”
- • Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band "Too Hot To Handle"
- • Sunpie and The Louisiana Sun Spots – “Island Man”
- • Timothea – “School of Hard Knocks”
- • Clark Knighten "Treasures of New Orleans at Christmas"
- • Lance Ellis – “Just Curious”, “Never Would Have Made It”, “Thinking of You”, “Lance Ellis and Friends Live”, Lance Ellis and Friends A Blast From the Past”, "Can't Run Can't Hide".
- • WWL TV Morning Show
- • Joy Theater Grand Opening Concert
- • WUPL TV Commercial ad
- • Harrah’s Casino Theater (Musical Concert)
- • "Outside Mind"
- • Lance Ellis in "Voodoo Love"
Lance Ellis Biography
The life of reedman, Lance Ellis reads like an exciting and creative non-fiction novel. Wearing many hats, he is a consummate professional. Lance is a bandleader, musician, songwriter, composer, arranger, producer, videographer, actor and entrepreneur just to name a few of his talents.
Born as an identical twin and the youngest child of five to Lawrence and Frankie Ellis. Gospel, Blues and R&B were the music played in the Ellis household. When Lance was in the third grade, his mother decided that she wanted all her children to play a musical instrument, so she gave each of them the opportunity to choose an instrument they would like to pursue. Lance chose the saxophone because of its unique shape and sound. His mastery of the saxophone landed him in the high school marching band. Recognizing that he was a gifted and talented musician, his music teacher encouraged him to audition for a place in the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts program (NOCCA). Lance won the opportunity to participate in the program during his senior year in high school. Being taught by Jazz Masters, Ellis Marsalis, Edward Sanders and Kid Jordan, he learned to play traditional and classical Jazz but fell in love with the soulful essence of contemporary Jazz. Graduating from high school with honors and a promising musical career ahead, Lance attended Southern University and became a member of the marching band.
Since music was not his main passion, he pursued it only as a hobby. He perfected the techniques he was taught in NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) and learned to play music by ear. In addition, he taught himself how to play the flute, harmonica, drums, guitar and piano just to name a few. Having a curious nature, he hung out with some of New Orleans finest musicians, and learned to appreciate the various musical genres. Putting music on the back burner, Lance became a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service. During this time, he joined WAR, a popular Funk band from the 70’s and began touring and performing around the world during breaks from the postal service.
Through this musical journey, he continuously met people from various countries and cultures. Seeing the world through a different light made a big impact on Lance. He felt a connection with the people he met and deeply embraced their feelings about the music that he played. While on the road each day, he realized his love for traveling and his passion for music became stronger. Once he returned to New Orleans, trusting and believing in God, he took a leap of faith and resigned from the postal service after thirteen years of service to pursue a full time career in music and entertainment.
In 2000, Lance auditioned for BET’s Jazz Discovery Competition, which resulted in him becoming a finalist in the competition. He has since performed, traveled and recorded with several top notch bands including ‘The Low Riders’, whose members were a part of the original “War’ band, Irma Thomas (Queen of Louisiana Soul), Mem Shannon (Blues), Chubby Carrier (Louisiana Swamp Funk), George Porter, Jr. (Member of the Original Meters) and Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots (Blues & Zydeco). His relationship with each of these groups is unique but his heart truly belongs to Jazz.
Lance’s playing style closely resembles that of King Curtis however; his mentor is the late Grover Washington, Jr. The soulful, sophisticated sound of Lance places him in the ranks of many Jazz greats, which will be appreciated for years to come. Assembling some of New Orleans’ top musicians including Larry Ellis, his twin brother, Lance created his own band, which led to the recording of two albums, ‘Just Curious’ and ‘Thinking of You’ and one single disc ‘Forever Love You’ on his own independent record label, ‘Landlord Records.’
Always fascinated by new ideas, opportunities and challenges, Lance has been an extra in many major movies and televised projects filmed in New Orleans. Most notably, he was a member of the horn section in the Grammy award-winning movie, ‘Ray’ starring Oscar winner, Jamie Fox. As a Print Ad model and spokesperson, he has worked with Zatarains, Harrah’s Casino and Chinet just to name a few. As a successful businessman and entrepreneur, Lance produced a music video based on his hit tune, ‘Voodoo Love’ from the ‘Thinking of You’ CD. Lance’s unique musical style is truly magical and hypnotic. Once you have heard him, consider yourself “voodoo-ized.”