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The Sextet became somewhat well-known around Los Angeles, despite having no recordings commercially available.Perhaps the greatest exposure the group had was "Synthesis", a composition by Ellis in which the Sextet performed alongside Stan Kenton's Neophonic Orchestra.He toured briefly with bandleader Charlie Barnet and joined the Maynard Ferguson band in spring of 1959. Shortly thereafter, Ellis became involved in the New York City avant-garde jazz scene.

Donald Johnson Ellis (July 25, 1934 – December 17, 1978) was an American jazz trumpeter, drummer, composer, and bandleader.

He is best known for his extensive musical experimentation, particularly in the area of time signatures.

His father was a Methodist minister and his mother a church organist. After attending a Tommy Dorsey Big Band concert, he first became interested in jazz.

Other early inspirations were Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie.

While in New York, Ellis was involved with several Third Stream projects.