AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 36 YEARS
Pain Relief Beyond Belief
Charles Bell was a well-trained classical pianist who graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in the early 1950s. He turned his attention to jazz at around 20 years of age and soon made his mark on the jazz scene with his Charles Bell Contemporary Jazz Ensemble landing a contract with Columbia Records.
Charles was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony to write a three movement jazz symphony called “Concerto in Miniature of Jazz Quartet and Orchestra” that was conducted by Dr. William Steinberg in 1963. The Charles Bell quartet released several recordings on the Columbia and Atlantic labels and toured the world during the 1960s.
Daughter, Linda Imani became a principle dancer in the Bob Johnson Black Theatre Dance ensemble in the early 70s. She danced in the historic theatre-dance presentation of "Isis" at soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in 1971 which is still remembered as one of the most inspiring original black cultural presentations of its time. "Isis" was accompanied by original music composed by Nelson Harrison whose quintet performed live on stage with the dancers. It debuted as the opening act for the Alice Coltrane Quartet at Soldiers & Sailors in April, 1971 and its second version was the opening act for Kool & the Gang at Syria Mosque in 1972.
Son Poogie was born in Pittsburgh 1961 spending his early years in the steel city When Poogie was around 10 months old he sat for hours in a high chair watching his father s band rehearse. Around 5 A.M. the next morning his mother was awakened by the sound of drums thinking the band’s drummer had arrived early. She found Poogie in the living room sitting atop the drum stool tinging away on the cymbals, At the age of two and half he made his concert debut playing with his father at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Hall. Appearing with Pearl Bailey he made his first television appearance on the Mike Douglas Show in 1966 at age five. Pooggie’s family moved to New York City where his father became a music professor and continued to perform with his quartet. In New York Poogie go to know Max Roach and Ornette Coleman who jammed with his father in the Bell’s living room. Bassist Paul Chambers was a neighbor.
Charles lived rather quietly and obscurely in his NYC apartment at the time of his passing.
Please add any memories of him to this post so that we may share his accomplishments with the general public who should know about him as a pioneering presence in Pittsburgh's jazz legacy.
Linda and Poogie, My most sincere condolences on the passing of your father, Charles. I had the pleasure of playing with him a few times in the 60's. He was a very forward thinker and very much a gentleman. May God rest his soul in Peace. My heart goes out to you.
I Remember him well.. I had heard last Tuesday that he had passed but was unable to confirm it.
We grew up in the same hood, he in the 800 block of Bryn Mawr Rd and I the 800 block of Cherokee St.
What I remember most is Charles playing at the Paris After Dark on Rt51 in Brentwood. I think it later became the Bottom-up and not a place Charles would have step a foot in
I would echo Tony's statement Charles Bell "was very much a gentleman"
My friend , i just wanted to give my condolences to you and your family,Peace be with you!
Brian E. Edwards
To the extended Bell family; please accept my deepest and most heartfelt condolences.
My condolences to you Poogie and the rest of your family. I never met your father, but knew him by his great reputation.