Shock Treatment

Shock TreatmentShock_Treatments

Date(s) Recorded

February 14, 1968 – February 15, 1968

Tracks on 1st LP Release

A New Kind of Country (Levy) – 4:15
Mercy Maybe Mercy (Levy) – 3:24
Opus 5 (Smith) – 9:23
Beat Me Daddy, Seven to the Bar (Ellis) – 6:16
The Tihai (Ellis) – 8:48
Milo’s Theme (Ellis) – 4:28
Star Children (Ellis) – 3:25
Homecoming (Ellis) – 3:06
Seven Up (Smith / arr. Roccisano) – 4:03
Zim (John Magruder) – 4:03

Tracks on 2nd and 3rd LP Release

A New Kind of Country (Levy) – 4:15
Night City (Ellis, MacFadden / arr. Ellis) – 3:00
Homecoming (Ellis) – 3:06
Mercy Maybe Mercy (Levy) – 3:24
Opus 5 (Smith) – 9:23
Star Children (Ellis) – 3:25
Beat Me Daddy, Seven to the Bar (Ellis) – 6:16
Milo’s Theme (Ellis) – 4:28
The Tihai (Ellis) – 8:48

Tracks on CD Release

A New Kind of Country (Levy) – 4:10
Night City (Ellis, MacFadden / arr. Ellis) – 2:56
Homecoming (Ellis) – 3:02
Mercy Maybe Mercy (Levy) – 3:24
Zim (John Magruder) – 4:03
Opus 5 (Smith) – 9:23
Star Children (Ellis) – 3:25
Beat Me Daddy, Seven to the Bar (Ellis) – 6:16
Milo’s Theme (Ellis) – 4:28
Seven Up (Smith / arr. Joe Roccisano) – 4:03
The Tihai (Ellis) – 8:48
Zim – alternate take (Magruder) – 4:04*
I Remember Clifford (Golson / arr. Woodson) – 5:29*
Rasty (Ellis) – 2:52 *

* Included on CD Reissue, not original LP releases


Don Ellis – Trumpet
Ruben Leon – Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute
Joe Roccisano – Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute
Joe Lopez – Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute
Ira Shulman – Tenor Sax, Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet
Ron Starr – Tenor Sax, Flute, Clarinet
John Magruder – Baritone Sax, Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet
Steve Bohannon – Drums
Frank DeLaRosa – Bass
Vince Diaz – Trombone
Alan Estes – Percussion, Timbales
Bob Harmon – Trumpet
Ralph Humphrey – Percussion, Timbales, Vibraphone
Michael Lange – Piano, Electric Piano
Ron Myers – Trombone
Ray Neapolitan – Bass, Sitar
Dave Parlato – Bass
Joe Porcaro – Percussion
David Sanchez – Trombone
Mark Stevens – Percussion
Mark Cass Stevens – Percussion, Timbales, Vibraphone
Glenn Stuart – Trumpet
Carlos “Patato” Valdes – Bongos, Conga
Chino Valdes – Bongos, Conga
Edward Warren – Trumpet
Alan Weight – Trumpet
Terry Woodson – Trombone, Bass Trombone
Mike Lang– Piano, Clavinet, Fender Piano
Ed Warren – Trumpet
David Sanchez – Trombone

Liner Notes

Digby Diehl (LP Releases), Digby Diehl and Nick DiScala (CD Release)


Columbia CS 9668 (1967)
Koch Jazz KOC CD-8590 (2001) – CD Reissue: Available at CDNOW for $12.49


The 3rd LP release is the same as the second, but with slightly different liner notes.

Ellis released Shock Treatment, his second studio album, in 1968. On this release, Ellis again took advantage of the studio environment to sculpt a sophisticated production that combines eclectic compositions, exotic time signatures, electronic effects, and polished ensemble performances. Shock Treatment also contains Ellis’s first recording utilizing a vocal group as part of the ensemble on selections titled “Star Children” and “Night City.” The 7/4 selection titled “The Tihai” was presumably motivated by Ellis’s studies with Hari Har Rao and illustrates Ellis’s liberated use of rhythmic superimpositions over meters with exotic time signatures. Tihai is an Indian musical term that describes a thrice-repeated rhythm played in such a manner that the last note of the phrase is elided with the first beat of a new measure. On the recording, the orchestra engages in vocally presenting the tihai using Indian

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rhythmic syllables in the middle of the selection. Rhythmic superimpositions that first appear in Shock Treatment ultimately became a major component in Ellis’s rhythmic vocabulary. Columbia Records created confusion surrounding Shock Treatment by releasing multiple versions of the recording. Ellis attempted to clarify the situation by sending a letter to the “Chords and Discords” forum of Down Beat magazine immediately following the magazine’s review of the album:

“Regarding the review of my record Shock Treatment by Harvey Pekar (DB, Sept. 19), I would like to set the record straight on some little known facts in connection with this album. The copy that was reviewed was one about which I am embarrassed and not proud. The story behind this is as follows:

Upon completion of the album, I did the mixing and editing here in California and then sent the finished product to New York. It wasn’t until the album was already released that I heard a pressing. Much to my horror, I found that without consulting me the whole album had been changed around—rejected masters and unapproved takes were used (not the ones which I had selected and edited), the wrong tunes were on the album, unauthorized splices were made which disturbed the musical flow of some of the compositions (beats were even missing from bars), whole sections were cut out, some of these being the high points of the album. Therefore the liner notes, which were done to the original album, do not agree with what is actually on the album, calling attention to solos and high spots

which are not there. I’m surprised that this wasn’t mentioned in the review! Also, the wrong personnel is listed on the jacket. When I discovered what had happened I was, naturally, disturbed and asked Columbia to redo the album. They graciously consented and I was able to change

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the album back to its original form except that I left Mercy Maybe Mercy, which my producer particularly liked, in place of Zim, which I hope will appear in a future album. Unfortunately, they were not able to call back all the thousands of albums which had already been released. However, they did send a note to the reviewers telling them that the copy which they had received was defective, and to please not review it until they received the corrected copy. It looks as if Down Beat didn’t get that letter. In conclusion, let me state that I have no quarrel with Harvey’s review, but I do wish that he or someone else would review the correct album.”
Electric Bath and Shock Treatment are closely related in their musical approach – similar to the close relationship of Live at Monterey and Live in 3 2/3 /4 Time. Ellis’s first two studio releases demonstrate a maturing of his art through the expansion of his architecture beyond those of repeating “ground” bass forms. Ellis also matures through the seamless integration of electronic effects and tighter performances of his ensemble – particularly his woodwind doublers. These advances indicate that Ellis’s style continued to develop during his early big band years, even within the framework of his own eclecticism.

The new developments demonstrated on Electric Bath and Shock Treatment allowed Ellis to generate new degree of “popular” appeal, beyond the ranks jazz fans. According to Digby Diehl, Ellis’s growing popularity was particularly noticeable in the club scene:

“[ . . . ] just a few years ago, Don was considered some kind of a Third Stream weirdo, playing crazy tempos no one could comprehend with his Hindustani Jazz Sextet. Now the experimentalism and individualism has paid off. Not only has the orchestra succeeded on its own terms, but it has been embraced by the modern music scene [ . . . ] The band has moved out

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of the happy confines of jazz clubs in recent dates and into the gyrating scene of rock-n-roll ballrooms. At the Cheetah, the Kaleidoscope, and the Carousel, kids are dancing frantically under stroboscopic lights to the big electric sounds of a jazz orchestra. Only get this: They’re dancing in 7/4!”

The Ellis Orchestra’s rise in notoriety also ran parallel to the intensifying popularity of rock music and the blossoming of the so-called “San Francisco sound,” which featured psychedelic tone colors and the musical sounds of non-Western cultures.

  • Irene Masteller

    My late father Ruben Leon invited me to the monterey jazz festival when he was in the Don Ellis band. He was a genius and gave Don a lot of structural support with arranging. What a gas that band was… All. Seasoned fine musicians. My father was a socially shy man with his share of phobias but what a heart. As a doctor he quietly helped a number of musicians avoid their demise through drug abuse and averted racial violence in some heavy gang ridden l.a. high schools. Miss him and his sounds.

    • Ken Orton

      Hi Irene, Your father Ruben Leon, was indeed a major contributor to those earlier Don Ellis bands, not only an excellent section leader (sax/woodwind), but a superb composer. I can think of at least 6 charts that he did, always with the experimental, challenging structure, associated with the band. e.g. ‘Row, Row, Row’ as the name suggests was ‘Atonal’. I have made mention of Ruben’s contributions in Don’s biography. I became close friends with the late Glenn Stuart (lead trumpet) shortly after Don’s death. Glenn spoke very highly of Ruben. Researching for Don’s bio at the time, I asked if maybe we could make contact with Ruben to meet and get his impressions of the band. Unfortunately, Glenn was unable to, much to my regret. Ken

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