Milwaukee jazz legend Manty Ellis honored at 90th birthday concert event

NOW: Milwaukee jazz legend Manty Ellis honored at 90th birthday concert event

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Monday night, Milwaukee jazz legend Manty Ellis was honored at a 90th birthday celebration. Dozens of musicians gathered at Sam's Place Jazz Cafe.

Musicians rotated in and out all evening long, sharing stories along the way about how Ellis has helped share his love of jazz with several generations.

One of the musicians told the crowd from the stage, "We're all here for one reason and that's to celebrate Manty Ellis. So let's hear it for Manty, everyone." 

Nearly every seat was taken at Sam's Place as people packed in to hear some of the city's top musicians plink, pluck, and play.

Ellis said, in jazz, "The focus is on everyone. Anything you have to say, you can express yourself."

Ellis was given the best seat in the house, surrounded by former students in the audience and on stage.

Mark Davis, the artistic director of the Milwaukee Jazz Institute, said, "Manty Ellis was one of my teachers, as he was for many of the people here were a student of Manty. But he's continued to mentor me throughout my entire life."

Davis is passing along Ellis' lessons to the next generation of artists. "It's a very close-knit community, but we're always welcoming of people that want to listen to the music or get involved playing it."

Later in the evening Manty was surprised with a cake. The legend said jazz is a young art form because it's always evolving, just like the city's jazz scene.

Davis said, "We have a great jazz scene in Milwaukee, and I think it's something everyone should maybe try and check out, try and go somewhere where there's live music, live jazz, and listen."

After blowing out the candles, some asked Manty what he'd wished for. Instead, he wanted everyone gathered to focus on the musicians.

Here's a list of some jazz clubs throughout the city:

Share this article: