Dave Kelbie


Dave Kelbie’s rhythm guitar is a joy in itself, firm but relaxed, clearly executed but never obtrusive. Dave knows exactly the best chord voicing for every moment and will add spice with the occasional flourish or series of brisk arpeggios reminiscent of Eddie Lang.

Dave Kelbie has devoted his professional career to playing rhythm guitar. Over the last 30 years he has been a prominent accompanist to many of the world’s leading jazz soloists and possibly every celebrated guitarist in the Gypsy jazz world.

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In 1989, as a self taught musician, Kelbie’s first professional engagements were with the legendary Gypsy guitarist from Holland, Fapy Lafertin. This partnership, which began with a ten year period touring extensively throughout Europe with Kelbie’s band Quartet Lejazz, continues with a new recording soon to be released featuring New Orleans clarinetist Evan Christopher.
Quartet Lejazz and Fapy Lafertin released the iconic CDs Swing Guitars in 1994 and Hungaria in 1996, two seminal recordings that are as majestic for their music as they are for their sound – and viewed by many as the definitive Gypsy jazz albums since the last recorded releases of Quintet of the Hot Club of France. Out of print for nearly ten years they were re-released in 2013 to much acclaim as the double album 94-96 The Recordings. These were the debut recordings on the lejazzetal label and set the stage for a relationship with music production resulting in an exclusive catalogue of 22 titles.
Through his alliance with Fapy Lafertin have come performances with musicians such as Hungarian violinist Roby Lakatos, Tcha Limberger, Bireli Lagrene, Mozes Rosenberg, Angelo Debarre and Lollo Meier.
After dissolving the Lafertin band he formed another quartet with the very celebrated French guitarist Angelo Debarre in 2002, an electrifying group that reignited interest in the mostly ignored later period compositions of Django Reinhardt. Featuring the great British violinist Christian Garrick the group toured for seven years to much critical acclaim from audience and media alike.
The groundbreaking UK-based multi-national Balkan music cooperative Szapora was a noteworthy departure from the jazz genre. Formed in 1996 as The Budapest Cafe orchestra, the band headed the Balkan music scene in Europe and the UK for a number of years, consistently featuring some of the finest European musicians and electrified audiences the world over.
In 2008 he started working with Australian multi-instrumentalist and vocalist George Washingmachine in the all Australian and very swinging George Washingmachine Quartet. The Quartet’s debut was at the Miri international jazz festival and toured throughout Europe for a number of years.
With a recent project, a seven year stretch with New Orleans clarinetist Evan Christopher and the mutli-award winning project Django a la Creole, Kelbie has become one of the most sought after rhythm guitarists on the world stage. For 20 years he has held the rhythm guitar seat to UK guitar legend John Etheridge and his band Sweet Chorus, and more recently London’s super stylish vintage jazz band The Dime Notes with U.S pianist Andrew Oliver and clarinetist David Horniblow.

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Dave Kelbie’s rhythm guitar is undoubtedly one of the best in the world
Kelbie is the motor tonight, providing a strict, subtle pulse – whatever the tempo
the rhythmic rumbling of a folksy freight train
Kelbie with a remarkable rhythm on his guitar delivers an impressive performance
Kelbie always provides propulsive rhythm guitar
Kelbie maintains the pulse flawlessly at any speed from zero to a hundred and twenty
Sweet Chorus is propelled by the partnership of the guitarist Dave Kelbie and the bassist Malcolm Creese
Kelbie maintains the pulse flawlessly at any speed from zero to a hundred and twenty
The Rolls-Royce and Jaguar of British rhythm sections
Dave Kelbie produced such a solid percussive rhythm you could hear why the original Quintette didn’t use a drummer


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