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Apr 14, 2013 - Annie Ellicott Shines with Jay Garrett at Jazz Depot Encore Performance

When it comes to combining two jazz acts on the same stage, Jim Rhea is batting a thousand. 

For a show held in November of last year, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame Trustee got the idea to combine the jazzy Jon Glazer Trio with Sweeney, Campbell, and Glazer—the rock and soul-oriented act that features Glazer and veteran Tulsa Sound vocalists Jim Sweeney and Chris Campbell. The result was a packed house and a memorable concert. 

A few months earlier, Rhea had seen similar success with another inspiration, suggesting to young Tulsa superstar Annie Ellicott that she might try joining forces with vibraphonist and composer Jay Garrett, a Tennessee native with tons of credentials who’d arrived in Tulsa a couple of years earlier.

“Jim introduced me to him,” recalls Ellicott. “I’d never had a vibraphone as one of my backing instruments – I’d worked with people who played little vibraphone parts in bands, but I’d never been in a situation where the vibraphonist was such a featured part of the music. I knew it would be good, though. I trusted Jim’s judgment. And once we started rehearsing together, I thought Jay was great. All of the band members were really good, too, and the show went great. We really loved working together. It couldn’t have turned out better.”

So, on Sunday, Ellicott, Garrett, and Garrett’s group return to the Jazz Depot for an encore performance that Ellicott says will feature some of the songs from their well-received August show, along with a variety of other material.

“We’re going to do a lot of songs with a Latin feel to them,” she says. “I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing `Fascinatin’ Rhythm,’ and you can count on us doing `Charade,’ too.”

While these jobs mark the first time Ellicott has shared billing with a vibraphone player, she’s been singing with all different kinds of musical accompaniment since her career began. Even though she was still in her teens when she started, it seems remarkable that she’s been singing in Tulsa venues for more than a decade.

“Actually, the first gig I ever had was 12 years ago, with [bassist] Jack Hannah,” she recalls. “My dad [bassist Rod Ellicott] was friends with him, and when I was growing up, he’d be over at the house sometimes. I played the saxophone in middle school and high school, and he had this flugelhorn we’d play around with. I played the piano, too, and he’d play the bass. It was a lot of fun.

“Then,” she adds, “I got to the place where I was singing with him. It was just very casual, jamming at the house on a Sunday afternoon. And then he got the idea to get me on a gig.”

That first job, with Hannah and a drummer, was at a Borders Books location in Tulsa.

“We played for store credit, in their café,” remembers Ellicott. “I read a little poetry of Jack’s, he played and I sang a bunch of songs, and we got fifty-dollar gift cards to Borders.”

At about the same time, while still a student at Central High School, she got the attention of guitarist Buddy Bruce, who came in to do a workshop with the school’s jazz class. When he found out that she knew far more jazz standards than a vocalist her age had any right to know, he introduced her to pianist Gayle Williamson, with whom Bruce was working in the jazz group Soundz Good. Invited to be the band’s vocalist, Ellicott opened a lot of eyes and ears, and her still-rising star was launched for good.

“While I was growing up, I thought it would be great to be a professional singer,” she muses. “But honestly, it just kind of unfolded for me. The only work I really had to do was practice singing.”

She laughs. “That’s kind of the way it goes, I think. If you really love something, and you just work really diligently to be the best you can be at it – to be really, really good – then the other things become a lot easier to attain.”

The Annie Ellicott and Jay Garrett concert is set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, April 21, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street.  To enjoy the jazz, call Bettie Downing at (918) 281-8609 or visit www.myticketoffice.com to purchase tickets to any Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame events. Members and Seniors enjoy discounted ticket prices at $10.00 each.  General Admission tickets are only $15.00, or $20.00 for Reserved Table Seating.

The performance is a part of the Jazz Hall’s Spring Concert Series.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form. 


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