Samuel Aaron Bell, a bassist who performed with Duke Ellington’s orchestra, died on July 28. Cause of death was not released. He was 82.
When he was a child, Bell’s mother taught him to play the piano. In high school, he learned the trumpet and the tuba, and in college, he mastered the double bass. During World War II, Bell played in Navy bands then joined the Andy Kirk Orchestra and moved to New York City.
In between performances, Bell took classes at New York University and recorded music with John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway.
In the 1950s, Bell formed his own band and recorded five albums, none of which have been released on CD. Bell joined Duke Ellington’s orchestra as a bassist in 1960, and occasionally served as Ellington’s arranger.
Bell spent his later years performing in bars and clubs, and teaching music at Essex County College in Newark, N.J. At his funeral, several of his students played “Take the A Train,” the famous Ellington song that featured Bell on bass.