Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Kell, Arthur (Scott)
Kell, Arthur (Scott), bassist composer; b. Winchester, MA, 6 June 1957. His siblings (Carolyn, b. 1946, Charleston, WV; Joyce, b. 1949, Charleston, WV; Wayne, b. 1954, Mineola, NY, d. 1994, New York, NY) were also raised in Winchester. His mother (born Louise Musser, Charleston, WV, 1919) and father (Thomas Nance Kell, 1919-1994, b. Decatur, GA, d. Concord, MA) retired to Jaffrey, NH in 1983.
Arthur was the only child in the family who was not required to take piano lessons and became the only professional musician. He attended and graduated from Phillips Andover Academy (MA) (1972-75). He started taking music lessons there in 10th grade (age 15) in order to pass a music requirement. He asked for guitar or violin but was steered to bass by violin teacher/orchestra conductor William Schneider. He met saxophonist and flutist, Thomas Chapin, there and the two became life-long friends, playing constantly and studying together during the summer of 1974 at Berklee College of Music. He studied with William Thomas in 1974-5. Less than two years after starting lessons, Arthur was second-chair bassist in the Massachusetts All-State Orchestra.
Arthur studied at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio from 1975-79. He studied classical music with Diana Mizelle and Mark Bernat and jazz and composition with Wendell Logan. It was at Oberlin that he first met and played extensively (on and off campus) with Ned Rothenberg, Jon Jang, Tom Varner and Eric Watson. He received a B.M. in music performance in 1979. Arthur migrated quickly to New York in the 1980's and played in bands led by Thomas Chapin (esp. the Spirits Rebellious Quintet), Bobbie Previte, Billy Bang, Mark Feldman, the Microscopic Septet, Fred Ho (Asian-American Arts Ensemble), Marc Ribot, Wayne Horvitz, Pete Malinverni, Roseanna Vitro, Joel Forrester and Shelley Hirsch among others. He toured in Europe with Geoffrey McCabe and drummer Aaron Scott.
From 1987-1995, Arthur took a hiatus from music and became a prominent environmental activist in New York City (his work is featured in a book by Benjamin Miller, "Fat of the Land" (Four Walls Eight Windows). He worked to organize communities (esp. the Hasidic Jewish, Latino and African-American communities of Williamsburg and Fort Greene), testified before the NY City Council, published two studies regarding the economics of garbage recycling and incineration in New York City and a third study regarding recycling compliance, took part and wrote briefs for an administrative law hearing, and appeared extensively in the media, including: Good Morning America (ABC-TV), the New York Times and WNET (public television).
In 1996 Arthur returned completely to music. He played in bands led by Guillermo Klein, John Stetch, Mordy Ferber, Steve Cardenas, Martin Krusche, Bill McHenry, Kate McGarry, Nora York, Armen Donelian, Christian Howes, Virginia Mayhew, Claire Daly, Jamie Begian, Sam Bardfeld, Dred Scott, Daniel Kelly, Rez Abbasi, Joel Harrison, Joe Smith and Sanni Orasmaa. He has also performed with Matt Wilson, Bruce Barth, Leon Parker, Tom Rainey, Bill Cunliffe, John Hart, Jeff Williams, Tony Moreno, Philip Harper, Ben Monder, Sam Newsome, Jay Clayton, Kenny Wessel and Ethan Iverson. He performed with a wide cross-section of the New York jazz community and in most major U.S. cities as well as in France, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Italy.
In 1998, he formed his own trio with guitarist Steve Cardenas and drummer Allison Miller and they enjoyed a long run at Chez Oskar's in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Arthur taught in Italy as an associate teacher for the State University of New York at Purchase in 1998. In 1999, he was invited to be a fellow at Music Omi, an international music colony in upstate New York and later joined the board of directors.
Arthur also traveled extensively in Africa, Kyrgyzstan and Europe. 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.
Unreleased compositions (1996); Arthur Kell, Saul Rubin, John Arnold Trio: unreleased recordings (1996); See You in Zanzibar (2000)
Thomas Chapin: unreleased recordings from his Spirits Rebellious songbook (1988); Peggy Stern: Actual Size (2000); Tommy Goodman: Doubleheader (2000); Andy Green Trio (2002); Lauren Cregor Mean Little Fingers (2002)
Peggy Stern Trio: BET-TV (2000)
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