Chris Bell and 100% Blues
by Jim DeKoster
The Jazz Internet
Las Vegas Jazz n' Blues
Las Vegas Blues Site
I Blues 2001 (Silver Bridge no#)
II Live - Blues, Sweat & Tears (Silver Bridge no#)
III Hell Is Too Hot For Me (Silver Bridge SBCD 004)
Chris Bell is a young L.A. based guitarist who has studied music at the University of Massachusetts and the Berklee College of Music and put in two years at a jazz workshop with Archie Shepp. Now he is playing the blues under the influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins, and especially, Albert King. These three albums, all recorded in the past two years, prove that he is rapidly developing his own voice.
BLUES 2001, a studio album, finds Bell blending his blues with rock and pop influences on songs like "Roll With The Punches" and "Ain't Seen Nothing" and adopts a jaunty hipster stance on others such as "Mr. Chill," "Heck With You," and "Wine Cooler." The most impresive song on the disc is "Elevator To Heaven," a bone-chilling minor-key prisoner's lament that, like another prison song, "Doin' Time," is reprised among the seven songs on Bell's live disc.
Though LIVE is well short of state of the art, a different band with Alexander Burke on keyboards, Ray Aguilar on bass, and Perry Senn on drums brings a far blusier sound to the music, which also includes Larry Davis's "Texas Flood" and two more Bell compositions - the dark-hewed "Cold-Hearted Woman" and the harder-edged "Next To You." Although Bell's already gruff voice sounds a bit hoarse at times, it holds promise.
That promise begins to be realized on Bell's lastest recording, HELL IS TOO HOT FOR ME, a studio date with all original material and a band made up of Paul Kallestad on organ, Mike Mowen on bass, and Perry Senn on drums. Bell mixes the chunky rhythms of the title track, "Deli Man" and "Next To You" with the stop-time shuffle "Opposites Attract," a Waters-influenced "She Found Another Man" (complete with slide), and the rock-based rave-up "Emergency." The slide returns, along with harmonica (Bell's) on the set's lone acoustic track, "Bury Me Alive," and Bell shines on the set's three downtempo numbers - "Two Jobs," with its echos of Otis Rush's "Double Trouble," "Cold-Hearted Woman" again, and "Hate It When You Lie."
While BLUES 2001 and LIVE both have an exploratory feel, HELL IS TOO HOT FOR ME is a more fully realized effort that marks Chris Bell as an artist to watch.
Jim DeKoster for Living Blues Issue # 165 (October 2002)
bluesInteractive™ go to Chris Bell: Hell Is Too Hot For Me
Chris Bell Caught Live! at Bilbo's