Primary Instrument: Drums
There’s much more to Poogie Bell than meets the eye. His youthful expression and boisterous personality can fill a room with warmth in a matter of seconds. What you may not realize is that he is an accomplished musician whose drumming can be heard on some of the finest jazz, R&B and hip-hop albums the world has to offer.
Music most certainly flows in Poogie Bell’s veins. His father was a jazz musician and professor of music and Poogie started playing music when he was just 10 months old. At the age of two and half he made his concert debut playing along side his father at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Hall. He made his first television appearance on the Mike Douglas Show at the tender age of five.
During his childhood Poogie would often stumble into the living room only to find his father jamming with the likes of Max Roach and the incomparable Ornette Coleman. Growing up in this environment it is not hard to understand why he chose to dedicate his life to music.
Poogie’s career took off when he began touring with hip-hop legend Afrika Bambaataa and later with the Force MD’s. In 1987 the Force MD’s had their first major success with the album “Touch and Go.” The album’s title track, which was co-written by Poogie and Victor Bailey, won the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Urban Music Writers award.
From there Poogie exploded into the R&B scene and spent the next 15 years collaborating with some of hip-hop and R&B’s heaviest hitters including Keith Sweat, SWV, New Edition and Erykah Badu.
In 2003 Poogie met a young musician by the name of Kevin Barefoot. Poogie had already made name for himself as a performer, producer and composer, working with everyone from Chaka Khan to David Bowie, but he had a new- found interest in the jam world. This was a world that Barefoot knew well. Two years later Poogie and Barefoot, joined by guitarist Juan Vasquez and keyboardist Howie Alexander came together and the Poogie Bell Band was born.
Poogie’s ferocious drumming combines with Barefoot’s jazz and hip-hop infused bass lines to create a rhythm section that solid to its core. Vasquez’s fast-paced and clever guitar solos are joined by Alexander’s relentlessly funky keyboard breakdowns and the result is nothing short of hip-shaking, head- bobbing fun.
Simply put, their unique “Funk Jazz Jam” blend is music you can groove to, think to, love to. With their debut album “Thinking Outside the Box” out now and ever growing fan base the Poogie Bell Band certainly seems to be here to stay.
“The sound of Poogie Bell's drums is what you hear on many of the world's finest jazz, neo-soul, R&B and hip-hop records. Performer, record producer, composer, and arranger, you've heard his work with artists including Chaka Khan, Marcus Miller, John Scofield, Busta Rhymes, Joe Sample, Roberta Flack, Erykah Badu, David Bowie”
Marcus Miller drummer Poogie Bell and his horn-heavy Pittsburgh band recall the raw, jammy, edgy first meeting of rock, funk, and jazz (think early Billy Cobham and Brecker Brothers convening at Bonnaroo). Miller contributes “Creepin’” and lays it down dirty on “Breezeword” and “Adolescence,” while Kevin Barefoot stanks up the rest, including his own “Pay Attention!” -Chris Jisi, Bass Player.com (April, 2007) http://www.bassplayer.com/article/poogie-bell-band/Apr-07/26402
“It sure sounds good on Thinking Outside the Box, the band's debut. The quartet takes a phat, aggressive, groove-heavy approach on the stomping MPD, while turntable scratching and Bell's slinky drum work infuses Boogie Hustlers with an infectious, exciting contemporary energy.” -Dave Richards, (January 7, 2005)
“Poogie more than made up for Omar's loss with a very solid performance all around. He can be a bit animated on stage but in a very good way as the music always reflects the personality of the musician… Poogie Bell is one of those needles in the haystack.” -Billy Cobham,
It's usually not the kind of music I listen to, but I immediately loved it. It makes me feel relaxed, but at the same time it makes me want to dance — if I could. I've been anxious to see them perform live ever since. - Dan Rosenkrantz
Anyone who appreciates a good concert would love the Poogie Bell Band, They blew me away the first time I saw them, he said. My favorite thing about the band is the rhythm section. They also have one of the most talented bass players I've ever seen. Anyone who likes music would appreciate the pure musicianship of the band. - Bryan Hoover
“Chicks really love the Poogie Bell Band…bringing a fresh, funky eclectic mix of jazz and soul” -Jessica Horton, Collegian Online (October 19, 2005)
“This not-too-poppy, not-too-esoteric side project for the regular drummer of Marcus Miller's band reminds me of how melodic fusion used to sound before it got too smooth in the 1990s.” �Nick Nowlin, Pittsburgh Post- Gazette (December 28, 2006)