Chris Kelsey

Author, Musician, Educator



Saxophonist/composer Chris Kelsey's music has been called "some kind of brave and crazy" (Brian Robbins, Relix/"reckless and ill-behaved" (C. Michael Bailey,, "bold and fearless" (Mark Corrotto,, and "some of the heaviest sounds to come from a soprano sax in quite some time" ( MIke Shanley,

SInce his first studio effort, Stutches (Unseen Rain UR 9996) - recorded in 1991 but not released until 2012 - Chris Kelsey has made nearly two-dozen albums for the C.I.M.P., Cadence Jazz, Unseen Rain, Saxofonis Music, and Tzazz Krytyk labels. In 2014, his CD Chris Kelsey & What I Say: The Electric Miles Project (Tzazz Krytyk 002) won the 13th Annual Independent Music Award for Best Tribute album. Other recent recordings include Duets: NYC/Woodstock (Tzazz Krytyk 003) with the guitarist Dom Minasi, and Free: Kelsey/Porter Duo Plays Ornette, Vol. 1 (Tzazz Krytyk 004), with the pianist Lewis Porter. Kelsey and Porter are currently preparing a second volume of Ornette interpretations for 2016 release. Kelsey's most recent project, The Harmolodi-Kats with Porter, guitarist Jack DeSalvo, bassist Francois Grillot, and drummer Enrique Haneine, is scheduled to record a set of his original compositions for the Unseen Rain label in the Summer of 2016.

Kelsey is also an accomplished journalist, having written for such publications and web sites as JazzTimes, Cadence, Jazziz, Ms., AllMusic, Onstage, and He's recorded dozens of his own compositions over the course of a jazz career going back nearly three decades. His book Attack of the Contrafact: Jazz Lines for the Adept and Incautious, a collection of original melodies based on traditional jazz harmonic frameworks, was published in 2012.

Kelsey is the Director of Instrumental Music at Trinity-Pawling School in Pawling, NY.


Photograph of Chris Kelsey by Lisa Kelsey