TAKE FIVE WITH GEORGE BELL
Highly celebrated local musician George Bell has an astonishing and illustrious musical career that spans across five decades. The Thibodaux-native first picked up the trumpet when he was in the fifth grade—which led him to have a decorated high school and collegiate band career at Thibodaux High School and Nicholls State University, play in the band NiteLife from 1978-1986, own his own production company, G Bell Productions, and obtain many other noteworthy accomplishments. The brilliant trumpeter and bandleader talked to the Times before his upcoming show “An Evening of Holiday Jazz” with George Bell and Friends at the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge this weekend.
What drew you to play the trumpet?
“I grew up listening to my older brother, Milton, play the trumpet all the way through high school and into college. He was an excellent musician who majored in music.”
What have been some of your most memorable concerts here in the Bayou Region?
“Because I put so much into planning each concert, they all have been memorable. However, I have really enjoyed performing concerts in my hometown of Thibodaux, most recently at Nicholls State University and St. John Episcopal Church. As a matter of fact, my next performance in Thibodaux will be on February 17 at Nicholls State University.”
What are some of your proudest accomplishments in music?
“I have been fortunate to have performed in a variety of musical settings over my life, from church services and programs, special events, in hospitals and nursing homes, concert theaters, festivals, schools and family gatherings. Perhaps I’m most proud of the fact that I still find enjoyment in playing and sharing my music with others.”
Who are some other well-acclaimed artists you have had the pleasure of playing alongside?
“I have performed with Branford Marsalis, Ellis Marsalis, Wynton Marsalis, Wes “Warmdaddy” Anderson, Gerald Veasley, Marcus Johnson, Frank McComb and Bobby Floyd—too many to mention.”
What has the annual “An Evening of Holiday Jazz” with George Bell and Friends concert meant for you?
“This has really been a labor of love for me. Although it requires a lot of planning, preparation and persistence, it has all been worthwhile. Even after over 20 GB&F concerts since 2011, I still enjoy the challenge of producing and performing these concerts.”
Bonus Question: If you could have a conversation with any musician—alive or dead—who would it be, and what would be the first question you would ask him or her?
“I would ask Wynton Marsalis, ‘What are some of the lessons you have learned over the years as a musician, bandleader, composer and artistic director at the Lincoln Center?'”
Tickets to see George Bell and Friends perform holiday jazz classics this Saturday and Sunday can be purchased at manshiptheatre.org. To follow the masterful jazz group led by Bell, please Like their official Facebook page.