Pee Wee's Playhouse

An R&B fable: Once upon a time, performers didn't employ DJs or lip-sync on stage — there were musicians playing with them real-time live. Call us Luddites or incorrigible old-schoolers, but cuts and samples don't convey the fiery immediacy and spontaneity of horn-blowers like Pee Wee Ellis. A lifelong member of funk's brotherhood of breath, Ellis, along with Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker, blazed 1960s and '70s trails with Godfather of Soul James Brown. Further, he co-wrote two of the Godfather's signature songs, "Cold Sweat" and "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)." Ellis and company authored funk's vocabulary by "sampling" (with minds and hearts) blues, gospel, and jazz, reshaping them till funk became a force of nature. With sax and an arranger's pen, Ellis also teams with Ireland's soul bro number one, Van Morrison, and magnificent West African singer Oumou Sangare. An American Original — give Ellis flowers/props while he's living.

Get down to Pee Wee Ellis and the Netofunk Allstars at 9 p.m. Wednesday, December 21, at O'Hara's Jazz & Blues Café, 722 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. The show is free, but there's a two-drink minimum. Call 954-524-1764.

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Mark Keresman