Chris Kelsey

Author, Musician, Educator

“Duets: NYC/Woodstock (Tzazz Krytyk) - '("Duets") finds Minasi in the company of another singular saxophone artist—Chris Kelsey ... And what a duo date this is. Kelsey manages to be both co-conspirator and foil to Minasi. He brings clarity and focus to the picture via melodic seeds, but none of his gestures are predictable; some of those seeds grow or mutate and others are blown away, never to be developed, seen, or heard from again ... There's beauty in the way these two men occasionally disengage, letting their individual personality traits shine through on their own respective terms, but engagement is more of the norm here ... Dom Minasi and Chris Kelsey are a simpatico duo if ever there was one.”

Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz (Apr 19, 2015)


“Free: Kelsey/Porter Duo Plays Ornette, Vol. 1 (Tzazz Krytyk) - 'I know the artistry of alto saxist Chris Kelsey well enough these days to expect something very worthwhile with anything he puts out ... Chris is burning in a sort of post-Braxtonian manner, with soulfire and illuminating soundings of the possibilities available to him ... Lewis Porter surprises continually with free-wheeling ideas and clusters of expression that fit completely with what Chris is doing yet in no way go in expected, predictable zones ... The music triumphs ... Great sounds! Do not miss!”

Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Music Review (Sep 15, 2015)


“Free: Kelsey/Porter Duo Plays Ornette, Vol. 1 (Tzazz Krytyk) - '(S)haman-like, sharp-witted, and intentionally shambolic (in) a single package ... Chris Kelsey and Dr. Lewis Porter have created something truly remarkable with "Free." They balance erudition and abandon while satisfying a craving for intelligent music dusted with mirth and mayhem. This album perfectly feeds into expectations while simultaneously defying them. The title hints at a second volume, and that would certainly be welcome. If it comes to pass, I'm sure it'll be a doozy like this one.'”

Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz (Dec 24, 2015)


“Free: Kelsey/Porter Duo Plays Ornette, Vol. 1 (Tzazz Krytyk) - 'Simply, the blues. That is the wellspring from which all of what promises to be a multipart release of Ornette Coleman's music ... Porter's left hand drives (and directs) the piece with Kelsey gleefully coloring outside of the lines ... "Giggin'" from Tomorrow is the Question (Atlantic, 1959) echoes the order of the opening "Music Always," composition on the edge of anti-composition and free improvisation. "Face of the Bass" from Change of the Century (Atlantic, 1960) displays Coleman's integrated sense of harmony and melody is stream with Coleman's pulse, the momentum of the blues. Kelsey plays a precise brio and Porter a dignified rebellion.”

C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz (Jan 06, 2016)


“Duets: NYC/Woodstock (Tzazz Krytyk) - 'What happens with free jazz stalwarts saxophonist Chris Kelsey meets one Dom Minasi, the guitarist of the future past? A freedom lovefest, or course. Through nine compositions co-written by Kelsey and Minasi, the two demonstrate the psychotically-fractured temperament of the House of Ornette, John, Archie, and Pharaoh. The beauty of these often noisy and circuitous conversations is that free jazz is given its most basic definition, the actions of reactions of the least number of musicians defining what free jazz is...the influence of one another ... There is sense to free jazz. It lays in its calm heart.”

C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz (Jan 06, 2016)


“Chris Kelsey & What I Say: The Electric Miles Project (Tzazz Krytyk) - '(T)he album doesn't become #246 in an unending series of fawning tributes to a jazz god, nor does try to put the music in a new-and-ridiculously-incompatible context. It finds inspiration in the original sources and calls on the band to come up with something new and vital ... Kelsey is free to fly all over the place, knowing that he can get chaotic and always have a place to land. This session does have some of the heaviest sounds to come from a soprano sax in quite some time ... Some tribute albums seem to tread lightly as they go about their business, almost worried about what the honoree would think ... when the tapes began rolling, (Kelsey) and the band cut to the chase. Just like Miles.'”

Mike Shanley, shanleyonmusic (Aug 24, 2013)


“Chris Kelsey & What I Say: The Electric Miles Project (Tzazz Krytyk) - 'Saxophonist Chris Kelsey and his co-conspirators on The Electric Miles Project (guitarists Rolf Sturm and Jack DeSalvo; bassist Joe Gallant; drummer Dean Sharp) are some kind of brave and crazy. They have tackled some of the most wild-assed work of Miles Davis’ career in a manner that comes across as being both respectful and fearless – and the end result is an album that feels more like the next chapter for these tunes rather than a look-back-over-the-shoulder tribute.'”

Brian Robbins, Relix/ (Aug 10, 2013)


“Chris Kelsey & What I Say: The Electric Miles Project (Tzazz Krytyk) - '(A) more modern and polystylistic set of influences than even Miles himself wielded … Few tributes take as many chances or succeed in reinventing their inspirations so successfully as this band does.'”

Steve Holtje, Culture Catch (Jul 01, 2013)


“Chris Kelsey & What I Say: The Electric Miles Project (Tzazz Krytyk) - 'The leader's athletic alto and soprano sax sound navigates with aplomb the difficulties faced by Gary Bartz, Dave Liebman, Steve Grossman and Sonny Fortune ... (F)or Kelsey and his bandmates, this repertoire is a living thing, a way of collective improvisation as much as a set of compositions to be dusted off. And in so doing, they unlock the joy encoded in the originals.'”

Jeff Dayton-Johnson, All About Jazz (Aug 03, 2013)


“Chris Kelsey & What I Say: The Electric Miles Project (Tzazz Krytyk) - 'This is reckless, ill-behaved music that will forever have to justify itself to the traditional jazz purist. That said, it is also the artistic convulsion or psychotic break necessary to shake loose the 'new' so evolution may occur. In that, Kelsey captures the spirit of Davis well.'”

C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz (Jul 16, 2013)


“Chris Kelsey & What I Say: The Electric Miles Project (Tzazz Krytyk) - '(This) project is bold and fearless. 'Agharta Prelude' hits with the immediacy of the original 1975 version ... Funk flies, James Brown towels-off from a cold sweat and the groove is communicable.'”

Mark Corotto, We Travel The Spaceways - All About Jazz (Jul 20, 2013)


“Chris Kelsey & What I Say: The Electric Miles Project (Tzazz Krytyk) - 'Saxophonist Chris Kelsey doesn't merely revisit Miles Davis' electric work; he refashions, revamps and revitalizes this music, packaging the Prince Of Darkness' pieces in modern aural attire.'”

- Dan Bilawsky, contributor, All About Jazz


“Chris Kelsey & What I Say: The Electric Miles Project (Tzazz Krytyk) - '(Chris Kelsey) is a monster, as many already know ... There of course were some seminally monstrous saxophonists going through Miles' bands then, from Shorter, Grossman and Bartz to Liebman and Fortune, but Kelsey sounds like none of them. He is himself and it's a great thing indeed ... Recommended!'”

Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Music Review (Jul 17, 2013)


“Chris Kelsey & What I Say: The Electric Miles Project (Tzazz Krytyk) - 'Starting off with the 'Agharta Theme,' the band is off and slamming ... What makes this unit so magical is the way the (mostly) soprano sax and both guitars play together. Both guitarists take a number of those go-for-the-jugular solos that we former fusion-loving fans hold so dear.'”

Bruce Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery (Jul 05, 2013)


“Wishing You Were Here (C.I.M.P) - 'Chris Kelsey is one intense performer. His playing might also be described as self-confident and bold: whatever the velocity or volume, he focuses on his performances with unbridled directness, perhaps influenced by his Oklahoma roots. Kelsey has developed a distinctive voice on soprano sax, one that is more aggressive than that of most modern performers on the instrument ... The saxophonist leaves no doubt who is in charge, spitting out streams of notes like cascading waterfalls ... his blowing is so electrified that even when he drops the volume halfway through the opener, he barely pauses for breath.'”

Steven Loewy, All Music Guide


“Not Cool (Tzazz Krytyk) - 'Kelsey's music ... is free, fiery, harmonically energizing, and often challenging.'”

Jerry D’Souza, All About Jazz


“Wishing You Were Here (C.I.M.P.) and Beyond Is and Is Not (Cadence Jazz) - 'Kelsey's restless playing recalls the angled hooks of Ornette Coleman and the birdsong of Eric Dolphy, but his flowing energy is unquestionably unique.'”

Marc Masters, JazzTimes


“Not Cool (Tzazz Krytyk) - '(Kelsey’s) command of each horn is impressive. He uncoils lines that seem impossible to produce with just one lungful of breath.'”

Phil Freeman, author of Running the Voodoo Down, Burning Ambulance