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Ellis Larkins: 1923-2002
Ellis Larkins

Born: May 15, 1923 in Baltimore, Maryland
Died: September 29, 2002 in Baltimore, Maryland


Copyright © 2002 


Ellis Lane Larkins was an elegant and sophisticated jazz pianist and master accompanist. He was a classical piano prodigy, and performed for Eleanor Roosevelt at the age of 12. He made his jazz debut with guitarist Billy Moore at Cafe Society in New York in 1942, and went on to a long and distinguished career.

He performed and recorded with Ella Fitzgerald in the early 1950s, and later with Ruby Braff, two of his most celebrated associations. He was particularly highly regarded as an accompanist of singers. Leonard Fetaher said of him that "nobody else has ever captured the magical touch of Larkins, for decades an idol of every singer he ever accompanied. Under his fingers the keys become velvet."

In addition to Fitzgerald, he accompanied Mildred Bailey, Joe Williams, Helen Humes, Sarah Vaughan, Harry Belafonte, Joyce Carr and Anita Elis, among others. He recorded occasionally as a leader, including Swingin' for Hamp (1979) and in the solo piano Live at Maybeck Recital Hall (1992) for Concord Jazz. He recorded with Ruby Braff in 1955, and again in 1992/4.

JJA members are invited to submit a full obituary or appreciation.

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