Arthur Kell (bassist, composer) is one of the most original voices on today’s New York jazz scene. For the past twenty years, he has played with an amazing cross-section of the most influential contemporary jazz musicians in New York City and around the world.
For example, in the 1980′s Arthur played extensively with artists such as Thomas Chapin (Spirits Rebellious Quintet), Bobbie Previte, Shelley Hirsch and Fred Ho, and also played dates with Billy Bang, Marc Ribot and Mark Feldman.
This wide experience and versatility are reflected in Arthur’s playing and writing. His compositions and his improvisations draw on many diverse influences, which makes for very entertaining and compelling listening. Arthur’s ability to fit seamlessly into any musical context has made him much in demand as a sideman.
Recently, he has been working with the likes of Sam Newsome, Armen Donelian, Dave Berkman, Cliff Korman, Guillermo Klein, Christian Howes, John Stetch, Bruce Barth and the Finnish singer, Sanni Orasmaa. He has been paired on recordings with Bernard Purdie, Matt Wilson and Anton Fier.
Since 1997, he has led groups featuring such contemporary jazz stars as Loren Stillman, Bill McHenry, Brad Shepik, Steve Cardenas, Matt Wilson, Gerald Cleaver, Donny McCaslin and Chris Cheek.
Arthur’s 2009 release on the Brooklyn Jazz Underground label unveils a new program of songs that has been enthusiastically embraced before sold-out audiences in Europe and New York. His current working band includes Loren Stillman (alto sax), Brad Shepik (guitar) and Mark Ferber (drums). His quartet has done twelve tours in Europe.
Arthur was born in Winchester, Massachusetts. His musical life started late in high school. He met Thomas Chapin there and the two became life-long friends. He went on to study at Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Diana Mizelle, Mark Bernat and Wendell Logan. It was at Oberlin that he first met and played extensively with Ned Rothenberg, Jon Jang, Eric Watson and Tom Varner.
In the period 1987-1997, Arthur was a prominent environmental activist in New York (read an excerpt about his work from a book by Benjamin Miller).
He has also taught in Italy as an associate teacher for the State University of New York at Purchase. Arthur was invited to be a fellow at Music Omi, an international music colony in upstate New York and is now on the board of directors.
Arthur has also traveled extensively in Africa (read an excerpt from his journals about travel in the deserts of Niger), India and Kyrgyzstan. In a four-month period in 1994-5, he traveled alone by local transportation from Senegal to the Indian Ocean, including 900 miles by camel through the Sahara desert in Niger and Chad.