The liner notes of the album describe Ellis' appreciation for the message and music of Fred Rogers:
In childhood, Ellis was not a devotee of the Mister Rogers show. His "aha" moment came some years ago, when he happened upon an episode with the song You Are Special. "I was impressed with both the intent of the language and how fearlessly earnest he is, which I see as a sign of incredible courage," Ellis says. "In this era, a clever, ironic outlook is ascendent among artists and musicians, which in some ways is less courageous than being earnest, which can set you up for accusations of being naive of corny.
"It also resonates that he was an ordained Presbyterian minister, and was religious, although he was quiet and didn't proselytize. I come from a long line of Presbyterian ministers -- my dad is one and so was my grandfather. But most important is that he was a songwriter and singer and piano player. He wrote kid songs, but they feel like part of the American jazz tradition, with quirky forms. Early on, he sang them live, playing the piano and looking to the side at the camera, the way you'd see Nat Cole do it on his show; towards the end, you'd hear Johnny Costa improvise. Mr. Rogers was exposing an American audience to jazz."From the opening track (What Do You Do) all way through the tenth (a solo performance of Won't You Be My Neighbor), you'll be pleasantly reminded of the music that made the Neighborhood program so special.
If you're a fan of the trio that provided a majority of the music for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (Costa, Rawsthorne, McVicker) or even if you've just got a taste for jazz, I assure you that this is an album you do not want to miss out on!
For more on John Ellis' marvelous album It's You I Like, visit the Neighborhood Archive or any of the links below.
John Ellis Official Site: www.johnaxsonellis.com
John Ellis on Facebook: www.facebook.com/johnellisband
Criss Cross Jazz: www.crisscrossjazz.com