Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Bobby Ellis Gets Brass Band Send Off

Published:Wednesday | November 16, 2016 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
A complement of seasoned and veteran instrumentalists that formed a section of the brass band.
(From left) Pall-bearers: Edward Ellis (son), David Hall Jr (grandson), Alphanso Vassell (nephew), Fitroy Reid (stepson), Arthur McKenzie (son-in-law) and David Hall (son-in-law).
Son-in-law Arthur McKenzie and Angela McKenzie, daughter.
From left: Aryana Lee (granddaughter), Angela McKenzie (daughter), Cheryl Ellis (daughter), Nadine Ellis-Hall (daughter).
Nadine Ellis-Hall, daughter.
Angela McKenzie, daughter.

The organ, a fixture of the Catholic Church, stood silent and unattended as the bandstand at St Richard's Catholic Church was fashioned to accommodate a collection of Jamaica's instrumentalist 'elders', who gathered in melody and harmony to pay their respects to their brother in brass, Robert 'Bobby' Ellis, OD.

Ellis was laid to rest over the weekend under the general guide of Catholic tradition, but with the sounds of ska and rocksteady.

"A musician of great renown, Ellis belonged to that fine group whose exploits on the bandstand were a source of great delight," read a tribute from the office of P.J. Patterson that was printed on the first page of the ceremony's programme.


"The passing of Robert 'Bobby' Ellis marks a loss that will be felt by his family and the wider community for which he brought so much joy and upliftment during his earthly sojourn. His mastery of the trumpet resulted in his frequent engagement when any studio band of class was assembled," the tribute continued.

The late trumpeter was regarded with much respect and this was reflected in the fanfare inside the church.

A complement of almost 20 seasoned and veteran instrumentalists opened the proceedings with the blasts and blares of a full horn section, multiple drummers, keyboardists and more. It was a gathering of those who were cut from the same cloth; the Jamaica Music Fraternity and the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates.

In her tribute, Ellis' daughter, Angela McKenzie, expressed that one of the more memorable moments she was able to share with her father was in October of 2014. It was then that Bobby was awarded the Order of Distinction for his extensive contribution to Jamaica's music recording and performance history. McKenzie regarded that moment as one of their happiest and proudest.

In keeping with his high acclaim, a representative from the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport delivered a eulogising tribute on behalf of Olivia 'Babsy' Grange.

Ellis, like a number of other Alpha old boys, built his livelihood on the lessons learned from the music curriculum of the institution, and his has since served as a pillar of respect within the musical fraternity. Ellis' career took him as far as becoming a horn arranger for Studio One, a record label that was once considered to be the Motown of Jamaica.