Kevin Bales Trio with Annie Sellick
Kevin Bales – Bio
Musician, Teacher, Performer
By some measures, Kevin Bales was a latecomer to jazz, already 17 when he encountered the sounds and structures and became captivated by the freedom and corresponding challenges of the music. But if late to the party, he wasted no time in immersing himself in the celebration, declaring total commitment to what would be his life’s work and backing his announcement by resigning his job and designated career in computer programming. Kevin could commit to jazz with a reasonable degree of expectation. He was already an accomplished pianist, with classical chops refined since the age of 10. So accomplished he was invited to audition for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, then under the direction of its most storied conductor Robert Shaw, at age 16.
Kevin’s initial career move was to the University of North Florida and a budding if little-known jazz program. There he met and performed with, and went on to record and tour with, a number of monumental artists who had settled into that burgeoning North Florida jazz scene. Giants like Wynton Marsalis, Louie Bellson, Eddie Daniels, James Moody, Ben Tucker, Ira Sullivan, Sam Rivers, and Nat Adderley. He counts among his mentors bassist Ben Tucker, multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan, guitar legends Nathen Page and Jack Petersen, and the fiercely individual saxophonist Bunky Green. His meeting with Bunky Green led to five years of tours. His encounter with guitarist Nathen Page blossomed into 15 years of spot tours and four albums. And his work with trumpeter extraordinaire Marcus Printup has become a lifetime association that has included recordings on Blue Note/Capital records. Ten years touring and recording with vocal iconoclast Rene Marie culminated in the a Grammy Nominated album.
Few artists have the patience for teaching – as are few teachers accomplished players. But Kevin has amassed a reputation for his prowess in both professions. While still a senior at North Florida he was drafted into a full teaching load, and continued to be an integral part of the school’s jazz program for upwards of a decade. Today, Kevin manages his own jazz program, overseeing an ambitious schedule of ambitious jazz students.
Kevin has amassed a long list of awards and a reputation as one of the finest jazz pianists performing anywhere. In 1994, less than a decade into jazz, he won the American Pianist Association’s Jazz Piano Competition. In addition to nearly every important jazz venue in the South, he has performed in some of the most acclaimed clubs and festivals in America and around the world: the JVC Jazz Festival in New York, The Bakery in Los Angeles, The Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center jazz series, the Toronto and Edinburgh jazz festivals, and the Moscow Center for the Performing Arts.
Annie Selleck – Bio
Annie Sellick may be compared to the greats – “Ella’s playfulness, Carmen’s attitude, Betty’s instincts and Anita’s flair…” (Greg Lee, WMOT jazz radio). But, she is unequivocally and undeniably an original. Don’t let her southern drawl, as sweet as biscuits n’ honey, cause you to make assumptions, because there is nothing shy or demure about Ms. Sellick’s control – of the stage, the music, her sound, and her audience.
It’s quite obvious she is totally at home as a live performer, immediately engaging her audiences with an innate ability to make everyone in the room feel like she is performing just for them. But these special gifts aside, it’s Annie’s pure talent as a musician that is earning her rave reviews and a growing fan base around the world.
Annie lives in Nashville, Tennessee; however, she is quick to tell you “growing up in ‘Music City’ I hated country music.”But Nashville is home base for some of the finest musicians in the world playing every genre of music.”I have had the opportunity to play with a very talented pool of Nashville-based jazz players, and it has been a great place to cut my teeth and learn. These days I am learning from Nashville musicians of all styles.There is such a high level of musicianship here, and the support of the community is unparalleled.”
An auspicious beginning
At first, Annie had no intention of pursuing a career as a performer. Then one evening in a “dive bar” near the college she attended in Middle Tennessee, Annie sat in with guitarist Roland Gresham. “The only standards I knew were ‘Fever’ and ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” she remembers, laughing. “I sang ‘Fever’ and everybody went berserk.”The band hired her then and there. She recalls getting the names of jazz singers from a friend, tracking down their albums, learning the tunes a few at a time and then returning to the club to sing them.
Her sense of timing and interpretation of lyrics, her feel for the music – these elements all came together during this time.While performing gigs at night, she studied her craft at the Nashville Jazz Workshop and was offered their first work/study opportunity. The Nashville jazz community and its fans spread the word about this young pixie-faced singer with the long dreads whose voice denied both her youth and looks – adding to her charm and appeal.
Today, Annie is a mainstay at the major jazz venues in Nashville, where she has performed with all of Music City’s jazz artists, including Beegie Adair, Jeff Coffin, Rod McGaha and Bela Fleck. She is the resident vocalist with the Nashville Jazz Orchestra, with whom she has recorded, and she gave a celebrated sold-out performance with the Nashville Symphony Pops Orchestra, “An Evening of Jazz.”She has won a large, devoted following in her home town that has garnered five consecutive “Best Jazz Artist” awards from the Nashville media and the #1 best selling local artist for two years at Tower Records Nashville.
She stepped up her music studies, taking guitar at the New School while living and performing in New York City for a time. She also coached with Rebecca Paris in Boston and Rhiannon in Hawaii. Soon, she was stretching her wings beyond the Nashville area traveling to Europe, Japan, Canada and throughout the United States establishing solid fan bases centered in Atlanta and Birmingham, the major cities along the east coast from Hilton Head to West Palm Beach, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Montreal. Her club appearances in Montreal resulted in an invitation to perform at the 2006 and 2008 Montreal Jazz Festivals. She has also made regular appearances at West Coast Jazz Party, Newport Beach Jazz Party, Vail Jazz Festival and she opened for Curtis Stigers at the Gene Harris Jazz Festival. She toured with Mark O’Connor’s Hot Swing.She has made six Japan tours covering twenty cities both as a soloist and featured vocalist with John DiMartino, David Hazeltine, Grant Stewart and the late Eddie Higgins.
Annie has recorded four CD’s on her own label Chalice Music, Inc. Fans on CDBaby.com write, “To hear Annie sing is to feel like you’re falling in love…She doesn’t just sing, she swings, tells stories, shares her heart and celebrates simultaneously.” Her second effort, “No Greater Thrill” (2002 Chalice Music, Inc.) features Hammond B-3 royalty Joey DeFrancesco.
Her third CD, “A Little Piece of Heaven” (2004 Chalice Music, Inc.), is her first live recording captured at The Vic Jazz Club in Santa Monica, California.The rhythm section is an all-star line-up of L.A.’s top players – young lion Gerald Clayton on piano with Dan Lutz on bass and Kevin Kanner on drums.Guitarist Bruce Forman sits in on eight tunes. Sellick worked with stellar arranger/composer Shelly Berg who arranged a collection of lesser-known standards just for this project.
Los Angeles jazz fans love Annie Sellick, too.Her regular appearances there with Gerald Clayton’s trio has had a significant impact on her music and her career, leading to collaborations with many L.A. notables -Tamir Hendelman, Kristin Korb, Llew Matthews, Josh Nelson, Mark Winkler and Taylor Eigsti among them.“Drummer Jeff Hamilton happened to catch a video of one of my shows at Steamers in Fullerton, and he invited me to work with his trio.”
It seemed a studio recording capturing the energy and symbiosis with some of these Southern California’s players was due.Annie took into the studio two trios – “trio one” fronted by Gerald Clayton and “trio two” fronted by Jeff Hamilton. These collaborations became her fifth CD release entitled “Street of Dreams”.