Dee Bell SH

Short Bio

Silva • Bell • Elation is a tantalizing album that will leave the listener mourning for the 20 years of great music missed out on while Dee Bell was recovering from the Sagacious Grace fiasco.” (Midwest Records blog)

“With her sensuously husky voice and relaxed behind-the-beat phrasing, North Bay jazz vocalist Dee Bell emerged suddenly on the national scene some three decades ago with Let There Be Love, which was released on the Concord Jazz label. Mentored by veteran Bay Area guitarist Eddie Duran and championed by tenor sax legend Stan Getz, who both played on her impressive 1983 debut album, Bell was hailed by critic Leonard Feather for having a “haunting, jazz-infected sound” with “flawless” diction and phrasing - a reputation she enhanced with her second album, 1985’s One by One (which was also released by Concord). And then almost as quickly as she appeared, Bell seemed to drop off the scene.. Now she’s back...” - Andrew Gilbert, East Bay Express
“At long last, a new recording by Dee Bell. (Sagacious Grace) The pure-voiced singer, whose supple phrasing and unforced feeling draw you deep into a song, put out two smashing records on the Concord label in the 1980s that made the jazz world sit up and listen. The first, “Let There Be Love,” featured the sublime saxophonist Stan Getz, who heard something special in Dee’s uncluttered singing. Trumpeter Tom Harrell played on the equally well-received “One by One.”
- Jesse Hamlin, San Francisco Jazz and Art Writer (2011)

Born into a musical family in Indiana, she played clarinet and dulcimer at a young age. Between the ages of 12 and 23, she performed in many musical groups, both vocal and instrumental. A graduate of Indiana University, Bell first studied pre-medicine, and completed her degree as an art teacher and metal sculptress. Following graduation, she lived on the edge of the Hoosier National forest in a primitive cabin with no running water, no phone, and a woodstove for heat. She ran her own health food restaurant, studied voice with Kathy Chiavola, IU’s visiting opera diva: Eileen Farrell, produced graphic arts for Health food companies (Willow Run Margarine & Bloomingfoods et. al.) all while performing in local Bloomington clubs. Bell moved to San Francisco in 1978 to study voice and performance with the late Judy Davis.

In 1987 She met Eddie Duran after hours at the Trident where he heard her sing “Happy Birthday” to a friend. After that, she sat in with Eddie’s trio after her section closed for the evening. Stan Getz heard a tape of music that Eddie and Dee were working on. Stan called from an airplane en route to Houston and volunteered to be on her first album.

Bell has performed both domestically and abroad: festivals, television, club and hotel performances.


Professional distinction:

  • Silva • Bell • Elation on the Laser label bubbled the charts at 50
  • Sagacious Grace on the Laser label reached 31 in JazzWeek
  • Both Concord records reached the top twenty in National Jazz airplay
  • One by One hit 19 on the airplay charts
  • Let There Be Love - BillBoard Magazine “Recommended LP Jazz Pick in 1983” was in the top 10 in National Jazz airplay
  • Bell nominated by Downbeat Magazine in the 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, both in their release years.