Drummer and percussionist Jay Ellis earned his first degree at Berklee College of Music, where he performed with saxophonist Tommy Smith, bassist Ira Coleman, and trumpeter Dave Douglas. Returning to pit work in Dallas theaters, he continued leading his own trios, and was also the drummer for BL Lacerta with trombonist Kim Corbet and guitarist Joe Lee, and for the Lyles West Quartet Out. Moving to New York, he played with Harlem Boys Choir composer and pianist Ted Cruz, saxophonist Peter Epstein, and trumpeter Ralph Allessi and others, at The Knitting Factory, Housingworks, and Brooklyn Academy of Music. Since moving to Boulder to teach in the University of Colorado’s Program for Writing and Rhetoric, he has performed at Red Rocks with saxophonist Danny Meyer, bassist Doug Anderson, and DJ Peder Noir; and at Denver’s Dazzle and other clubs with saxophonist and composer Aakash Mittal, saxophonist Paul Riola’s Bottesini Project (with trumpeter Glen Whitehead, saxophonist Seraphin Sanchez, and bassist Kim Stone), and with bassist Kent McLagen. He has performed with saxophonist Lynn Baker as Artist in Residence at Denver's Nocturne, and appears on recordings and podcasts with Markus Hunt's Equity and Social Justice Quartet.