BJUR 008 Arthur Kell Quartet: Victoria - Live in Germany (CD)

BJUR 008.jpg
BJUR 008.jpg

BJUR 008 Arthur Kell Quartet: Victoria - Live in Germany (CD)


Arthur Kell - bass
Loren Stillman - alto saxophone
Brad Shepik - guitar
Joe Smith - drums

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I was fortunate to be able to have the last two concerts of a tour in May 2008 recorded for broadcast by German radio stations: Deutschlandfunk in Köln and Sudwestrundfunk in Karlsruhe.

But, returning home with only the live mixes of two sonically different recordings, I set my sights on starting over in the studio to get it right. Months later, friends encouraged me to take the live recordings off the shelf and listen again. They were right! I found them increasingly infectious and hard to deny. In the end, there was no editing or remixing, just a mastering session.

Almost all of the touring I’ve done with my own group in the last five years has been in Europe. So, I’m really happy to have a CD that captures the spirit of all those tours. There’s never going to be a substitute for a working band.

Originally a collection of my compositions about various people, I settled on a title from the lead cut Victoria and Her Sisters. As described below in the liner notes for each song, it represented a completely unexpected and welcome change in my life but one that I had to really fight for. The cover and most of the other photographs are of hand-carved figures from the interior of an abandoned house that I stumbled upon.

Victoria and Her Sisters. For the remarkable brownstone rowhouses of Bedford-Stuyvesant (Brooklyn, NY) and the brilliant and (mostly) unknown artists and architects who saw every inch of these homes as an opportunity for the imagination. For the victory of finding and surviving the restoration of one that, against all plans and intentions, I ended up falling in love with. She was built along with her four sisters about 1890. I left my happy home, feeling like something had grabbed me by the collar and dragged me. An astonishing number of things fell just the right way, a mirror crashed to the floor in the old place and I moved. For the birds in the mantelpiece. For a new life.

Suomi Sanni. Inspired by a song written by my good friend, Sanni Orasmaa, which was inspired in turn by a poem of Eino Leino, "Rauhattoman Rukous" (Pray for the Restless Soul).

Papa Abba. For Abba in Niger, born in the desert and trying to raise two families. Often so gruff, he was so gentle with his little girl.

Draco. This serpent-like melody is for all the beasts and griffins I live with now.

Names and Spaces

There You Go. This is for one of the inside jokes that always seem to accompany a band on the road. Humor keeps you going.

Dada. A few years back, the band showed up at the Valencia train station with just enough time to get to Madrid for a festival date. But they wouldn't let the bass on. We begged, we argued and the answer was no. The moment we walked out of the ticket office, a guy all dressed in orange appeared and asked if we wanted to help him drive to the Madrid airport. He said his car was nearby. We walked several kilometers across town dragging the instruments only to find a tiny station wagon. We jammed in and floored it (literally). He turned out to be a monk and as honest as can be. When we arrived at the airport, he just jumped out and left us his car. We dropped it off with a friend of his and made the gig in plenty of time. His name was Dada. This one's for him.

Arthur Kell, bassist & composer

Arthur Kell 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,Bobbie Previte and Marc Ribot, and also played dates with Billy Bang 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.  More recently, he has worked with the likes of Sam Newsome, Bill McHenry, Armen Donelian, Dave Berkman, Guillermo Klein, Christian Howes, Art Baron, Bruce Barth and the Finnish singer, Sanni Orasmaa. He has recorded with Bernard Purdie, Matt Wilson, Shelley Hirsch, Allison Miller and many others.  

Since 1997, he has led groups featuring such contemporary jazz stars as Steve Cardenas, Ben Monder, Gerald Cleaver, Donny McCaslin and Chris Cheek. He first two releases as a leader are See You in Zanzibar and Traveller (on Fresh Sound Records with Gorka Benitez, Steve Cardenas and Joe Smith).

Arthur's latest release, Victoria (Live in Germany), is on Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records and includes Brad Shepik, Loren Stillman and Joe Smith. The Arthur Kell Quartet has done ten tours in Europe in the last five years.

Arthur has long been an activist. He coordinated the environmental work of the New York Public Interest Research Group in New York City from 1987-1997. He has also traveled extensively in Africa.