“I believe music has the ability to heal and educate through the super conscious
use of improvisation, rhythm and pitch. My desire is to create sound that
habilitates these qualities.” (Kelvyn Bell)
Guitarist/composer Kelvyn Bell, leader of the avant-funk band Kelvynator follows up the group’s 2013 release Funk 4 Wha Cha Know with the debut of his solo outing, St. Louis Blu. A tribute to his Missouri hometown roots, Bell uses a heavy dose of church, blues, jazz and avant-garde as he declares, ”I wanted to create a statement that reflects the grit, wit and cultural heritage of the town and times I grew up in.”
St. Louis is well known for producing innovative contributors to the music world that include Clark Terry, Miles Davis, Chuck Berry, Hamiet Bluiett, Oliver Lake, Lester & Joseph Bowie, Greg Osby and Nelly to name a few. Kelvyn grew up in the same cultural environment and describes it’s identity as such, ”It’s raw intuition.
That’s how you learn to play the blues in St. Louis. Some folks think the blues is sad but it’s actually a healing force for the community just like church.”
After studying music theory and composition at The University of Missouri – Columbia and Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, Bell moved to New York in 1978. His raw intuitive style granted him founding membership into Steve Coleman’s Five Elements, Arthur Blythe’s Jazz Quintet, Joe Bowie’s Defunkt and The Black Rock Coalition. Forming his own avant-funk band Kelvynator in 1986, he proceeded to perform and record as a leader and sideman touring extensively through Europe, the U.S. and Japan.
Bell accepted a teaching position at The Harlem School of the Arts in 1995 where he later became Music Department Director until 2007. During this same time (2002-2010) he became Resident Composer/Music Director for The Classical Theatre of Harlem earning various award nominations and winning an Audelco Award
in 2008. Collaborating and sharing his years of musical experience through teaching and song writing became a new asset for the now veteran thespian composer.
As a member of Craig Harris’ Nation of Imagination, Bell collaborated with the legendary poet Amiri Baraka and later composed music and arrangements for poet/writers Quincy Troupe, Seku Sundiata, and Allison Hedge Coke.
After more than 35 years of innovative music making, the St. Louis bred guitarist has for the first time decided to record a solo acoustic guitar project to document the rich and varied heritage of his Midwest up bringing and the journey around the world it has permitted him to make. St. Louis Blu is performed entirely on steel string acoustic guitar covering a variety of music genres, standards and originals. Bell states, “I didn’t want no electronic effects, just pure acoustic guitar tones and rhythms that reveal the spirit of my ancestors so I could thank them for their gifts.”
The first track is an original healing blues titled East St. Louis Riots 1917 followed by Thelonious Monk’s Light Blue and Duke Ellington’s The Feeling of Jazz. Bell invents some drum loops and adds himself on bass for Arthur Blythe’s The Lower Nile. Other originals include Northside St. Louis and Free Funk For Ferguson recognizing the struggle and challenges of growing up in a city on the border of the Mason/ Dixon line in the 1970s. To be released Fall 2015.