Take Five With Dee Bell

Dee Bell By

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Meet Dee Bell:
Dee Bell has three jazz albums that have all been at the top of the airplay charts. The most recent, Sagacious Grace (Laser Records) with Houston Person, was released in August 2011 and hit the JazzWeek charts at 31. Bell's debut album, Let There Be Love with Stan Getz on saxophone and Eddie Duran (a Benny Goodman Band graduate) on guitar, was released on the Concord Jazz label as an LP for Valentine's Day in 1983. The record also featured prominent Bay Area musicians Al Plank, Vince Lateano, and Dean Reilly. Let There Be Love posted in the top ten in Radio and Records jazz airplay charts in the spring of 1983. The follow-up record in 1985 of One by One, also on the Concord Jazz label, reached number 13 on the Radio and Records jazz airplay charts in early summer 1985. This album featured trumpeter Tom Harrell along with Duran and Plank, and other Bay Area jazz musicians. Let There Be Love was chosen as a BillBoard Magazine "Recommended LP Jazz Pick" in 1983. Dee Bell was also nominated in Downbeat's Jazz Critic's Poll for two consecutive years as "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition." BAM Magazine nominated Let There Be Love as the "Best Debut Album" and "One by One as Best Jazz Vocal Album." Bell has performed nationally and internationally and has appeared at the Golden Globe Awards, the Russian River Jazz Festival, the Jazz in the City Festival, the Napa Valley Mustard Festival to name a few, as well as a wide variety of television, club and hotel performances.


Teachers and/or influences?
Peggy Lee, Sarah Vaughan, and Abbey Lincoln.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I performed my first song at the age of six.

Your sound and approach to music:
The sound is a flowing relaxed swinging behind the beat vocal sound similar to that of the Stan Getz sax sound. It has been compared with Irene Kral and June Christy among others.

Your teaching approach:
To practice scales, breathe from the diaphragm, be one with the music and to let go.

Your dream band:
I have my dream bad: Marcos Silva and his trio with additional guests on the latest CD: Andy Narell, Barry Finnerty, and Chris Sullivan.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:
I was singing in Portuguese in the States and lost my place in the lyrics and started singing the wrong ones. Someone in the audience started singing along in Portuguese and got me back on track. We laughed about it when the concert was over.

Favorite venue:
142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley, CA. It has a great sound along with great logistics.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
Elation (Laser, 2014) with Marcos Silva. I had the most fun of all recording all of the music on this joyous CD.

The first Jazz album I bought was:
Benny Goodman big band. I used to play clarinet alongside it when I was 10. I can't remember which album it was but it had "When Saints Go Marching In."

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?
Joy, a beautiful sound and elegant simplicity

Did you know...
I lived in a two room shack on the edge of the Hoosier National Forest for three years with a woodstove for heat and no running water.

CDs you are listening to now:
Pat Metheny, Unity Band (Nonesuch, 2012);
Anything from Andy Narell.

Desert Island picks:
Any thing from Gil Evans with Miles Davis
Claus Ogerman, Corfu (Verve, 1990);
Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959);
Miles Davis, Tutu (Warner, 1986).

How would you describe the state of jazz today?
Jazz programmers limit themselves in what they are willing to play. They are afraid to broaden their audience by playing jazz that has leans toward pop. It's too bad; they could bring in some younger listeners if they branched out.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing?
Keeping an open mind. Allowing the music to grow beyond its current bounds to include some of the popular music of more current eras that has been performed in jazz arrangements. Most of the popular music jazzers play is from the '20s and '30s. Let us branch out.

What is in the near future?
A CD release show at Yoshi's Oakland on April 29th. There's more after that.

What's your greatest fear when you perform?
That I have not finished getting the adrenaline settled prior to stepping on stage.

What song would you like played at your funeral?
Ivan Lins, "Bandeiros dos Divinos."

What is your favorite song to whistle or sing in the shower?
"The Face I Love."

By Day:
Part-time graphics for communications.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:
A metal sculptress.

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