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Liberty Ellman

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  • Years Active: 1990s, 2000s


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Biography All Music GuideWikipedia

All Music Guide:

Guitarist Liberty Ellman blends highly advanced post-bop jazz with elements of funk and hip-hop. His music falls roughly within the M-Base subculture birthed by alto saxophonist Steve Coleman. Born in London in 1971, but raised in the States, Ellman became an active member of the Bay Area's artistic community, playing with like-minded musicians Vijay Iyer and Eric Crystal, working with hip-hop groups the Coup and Midnight Voices, and composing music for the San Francisco Mime Troupe, a political theater company. In early 1997, Ellman founded Red Giant Records, which released his debut album, Orthodoxy, as well as discs by Iyer, Crystal, and Midnight Voices. Relocating to New York in late 1998, Ellman recorded for dance music producers Spiritual Life and began playing with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa. He also performed regularly with his own trio and gained auspicious employment in the touring band of M-Base prophet Greg Osby.


Liberty Ellman (born July 17, 1971, in London, England, United Kingdom) is a jazz guitarist born in London and raised in the United States, beginning in New York City. In the early 1980s, Ellman’s family moved to California. Before leaving New York, Liberty attended Greenwich Village's progressive City and Country School.

In the 1990s, Ellman was associated with the M-Base musical scene active in San Francisco, California, where he played with Eric Crystal. He also worked with hip hop artists such as the Coup and Midnight Voices, and composed pieces for the San Francisco Mime Troupe. He released his debut album on his own Red Giant Records in 1997, and moved back to New York City the following year. There, he worked with Henry Threadgill's Zooid, and Rudresh Mahanthappa, among others, and released two albums on Pi Recordings.