Art Ellefson

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Art Ellefson
Birth name Arthur Albert Ellefson
Born (1932-04-17) 17 April 1932 (age 86)
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Saxophone
Associated acts Vic Lewis, John Dankworth, Phil Nimmons

Arthur Albert Ellefson (born 17 April 1932 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan) is a Canadian jazz saxophonist. Having played trumpet and euphonium as a boy, he began playing tenor saxophone at 16, beginning his career in Toronto with Bobby Gimby and others, before going to London in 1952.

He played soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones and clarinet in many British dance bands. They include the Vic Lewis Orchestra from 1953–57, the Ronnie Ross-Allan Ganley Jazzmakers, touring North America with them in 1959, and, from 1960–65 he was with the John Dankworth Orchestra. He also played in touring bands led in England by Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson.

Ellefson moved in 1969 to Bermuda, and returned to Canada in 1974, where he played tenor saxophone with Nimmons 'N' Nine Plus Six until 1977, appearing occasionally thereafter with his own groups in Toronto. He moved to Courtenay, British Columbia in 1988, taught at Malaspina College in Nanaimo and formed a quartet, called Modus, that included his son Lee, a guitarist.


Jack Batten (Toronto Globe and Mail, 29 Sep 1976) wrote of Ellefson's style, "his sound seems a direct extension of the old masters... Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster and Lucky Thompson, and so is his sing-song lyricism, but the drive and naked passion of his playing comes from later, more beboppy tenor men."


  • The Art Ellefson Trio Peter Leitch guitar, Dave Young double-bass. 1981. CBC
  • The Art Ellefson Quartet Featuring Tommy Flanagan. Tommy Flanagan piano, Dave Young double-bass, Barry Elmes drums. 1985. Unisson
  • Ode to Modus. Lee Ellefson guitar, Russ Botten double-bass, Ursan drums. 1989 (cass)

Ellefson also appears on LPs by Woody Herman (Woody Herman and his Anglo-American Herd - 1959, Jazz Groove 004), Phil Nimmons and Kenny Wheeler; his British recordings with John Dankworth are listed in the Wheeler discography. He also played with Wheeler in his CBC album Ensemble Fusionaire in 1976 in Toronto.

He also was one of the sax players on George Harrison's song Savoy Truffle from the Beatles White Album.


  • Bavin, Pam. "Canadians in London 2". Art Ellefson, Coda, vol. 4, Nov 1961
  • Brown, Don. Liner notes for the Art Ellefson Quartet, Unisson DDA -005
  • Ellefson, Art. "Art Ellefson". The Canadian Encyclopedia of Music. Institut Historica-Dominion. Retrieved Jan 23, 2012.