b. 7 September 1914, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Early in the 40s, Bell played piano in local jazz groups with his trumpet-playing brother, Roger Bell. In addition to playing jazz, he was one of the leading promoters of the music in Australia. He was greatly responsible for building a jazz following in the country and by the late 40s he took his band to the UK, where he delighted the local scene, thanks in part to his policy of encouraging young people to dance to his music. At the end of the 40s he formed his own recording company, Swaggie, and both then and during the 50s toured internationally. Bell also brought American jazz stars to Australia, among them Rex Stewart, with whom he broadcast (a 1949 show being captured on record). He continued his tireless promotion of jazz by performing and by various other activities throughout the 70s and into the early 80s. Direct and uncomplicated, the bands Bell led were filled with energetic and cheerful musicians, among them Ade Monsbourgh, John Sangster and Dave Dallwitz. Bell’s musical policy was such that, in common with England’s Chris Barber, he was never content merely to rehash material from original sources. Instead, he stamped it with his own style, writing and arranging with skill and integrity within the format of a traditional band.
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