|Arthur Kell, composer, bassist and environmental activist, was born in Winchester, Massachusetts, and has 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.
His musical life started late in high school. He met Thomas Chapin there and the two became life-long friends, studying for a time at Berklee College of Music. In less than two years he was second-chair in the Massachusetts All-State Orchestra. 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.
Arthur migrated quickly to New York in the 1980's and played in bands led by Thomas Chapin (Spirits Rebellious Quintet), Bobbie Previte, Billy Bang, Mark Feldman, the Microscopic Septet, Fred Ho (Asian-American Arts Ensemble), Marc Ribot, Wayne Horvitz, Pete Malinverni, Joel Forrester and Shelley Hirsch among others. He toured in Europe with guitarist Geoffrey McCabe and drummer Aaron Scott.
For a time in the late 1980's, Arthur also became a prominent environmental activist (read an excerpt about his work from a new book by Benjamin Miller).
In recent years, Arthur has played in bands led by Guillermo Klein, John Stetch, Mordy Ferber, Steve Cardenas, Martin Krusche, Bill McHenry, Kate McGarry, Virginia Mayhew, Claire Daly and Sanni Orasmaa. He has also performed with Matt Wilson, Bruce Barth, Leon Parker, Tom Rainey, Bill Cunliffe, John Hart, Jay Clayton, Jeff Williams, Tony Moreno, Philip Harper, Ben Monder, Sam Newsome, Tim Pleasant, Ethan Iverson, Saul Rubin and John Arnold. He appears on Peggy Stern's "Actual Size" (Koch Jazz) on cuts with Bernard Purdie.
In 1998, he formed his own trio with guitarist Steve Cardenas and drummer Allison Miller. The trio enjoyed a long run at Chez Oskar's in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and added saxophonist Bill McHenry. Kell recorded the group in February 2000 and produced his first recording "See You in Zanzibar" dedicated to the late-Thomas Chapin.
Also in 1998, he taught in Italy as an associate teacher for the State University of New York at Purchase. In 1999, 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) 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. He intends to publish a book about the trip in 2002. InI a four-month