Bob Nell, piano; Kelly Roberty, bass; Brad Edwards, drums; Jack Walrath, trumpet; Ray Anderson, trombone
Composer and pianist Bob Nell is best known for his work with Kelly Roberty and Brad Edwards, collectively known as The N/R/E Trio, with whom he performs regularly throughout the Midwest and Canada, backing such jazz luminaries as Eddie Harris, Ray Brown, Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard, David "Fathead" Newman, Bobby Hutcherson, Nat Adderley, Emily Remler, Michele Hendricks, Sonny Fortune, Hank Crawford, and many others.
I first heard about Bob Nell shortly after moving to Seattle; he spent some time there thirteen or fourteen years ago and is near-legendary in certain circles. Nell deserves to be a legend, in my view, because he has something one might expect to find more often, but doesn't: a style firmly rooted in the jazz tradition, yet consistently original. He isn't a neo-traditionalist, a radical groundbreaker, or a fashion statement—just a great pianist who writes distinctive tunes.
Over the years, critics and listeners have often compared Bob Nell to the great composer and pianist Herbie Nichols. I like that comparison, not because they sound alike, but because Nell shares Nichols's creative purpose: to make a truly personal statement within the form, without looking backward and without compromise. —Wayne Horvitz