Saxophonist/composer Chris Kelsey has a
recorded nearly a dozen CDs as a leader of his own distinctive
ensembles. His innovative compositions and highly individualistic
instrumental style has graced such albums as The Crookedest Straight
Line, Vols. 1 & 2, Wishing You Were Here, Beyond Is and Is Not,
and his most recent, Not Cool ( as in, "The Opposite of Paul
Desmond"). His band, The Chris Kelsey 4, has performed at top jazz
festivals, including the What is Jazz? Festival, The Heineken Jazz
Festival, The Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival, and the New York Jazz
Festival. He''s also performed at top night clubs and performance
spaces, including The Knitting Factory, Roulette, CB''s Gallery, and
As a writer, Kelsey has written for most of the top U.S.
jazz publications, including Cadence, Jazziz, and JazzTimes. He''s
contributed extensively to The Music Hound Jazz Guide, The All Music
Guide to Jazz on CD, and AllMusic.com. Kelsey''s "Artswatch" column
appeared in Ms., and his "Notes from the Apple" column was a monthly
feature in Jazz Now. Kelsey worked as the Assistant Editor at Onstage,
and most recently as an editor and contributor to Ted Gioia''s
Chris Kelsey was born in Maine and raised in Oklahoma. He
began his career in music working in jazz and rock bands around the
Oklahoma City area. After attending college and receiving his Bachelor
of Music Education from Central State University (now the University
of Central Oklahoma), he moved to New York City, where he became
active on the Downtown experimental music scene, first as a
saxophonist, later as a writer. From the mid 1990s, he played
extensively with such innovative musicians as Phillip Johnston,
Dominic Duval, and Steve Swell. For Jazziz and JazzTimes, he
documented the scene, reviewing performances and profiling such major
figures as Charles Gayle, William Parker, Borah Bergman, and Rashied
Ali. He also curated the A Mica Bunker Series for Free Improvisation,
and founded its successor, The Bunker Annex.
Kelsey recorded his first album, Stomp Own It, in 1992
for his own Saxofonis Music imprint. In 1996, he began a long-lasting
relationship with producer/publisher Bob Rusch''s C.I.M.P. label, for
which he would record extensively over the next decade. In 2009 Kelsey
started his own label, Tzazz Krytyk, on which he released his latest
album, Not Cool.
Kelsey studied jazz history with the late Max Roach, and
improvisation with the legendary saxophonist Lee Konitz. He''s also
taught saxophone and improvisation.
Kelsey currently lives with his wife and their two children in Pawling, NY.