The Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown held a coffee and classics concert featuring musicians Abe Speller, Jair-Rohm Parker Wells and Robert Prester earlier this month.
Speller played drums and percussion, Parker Wells played bass and Prester played piano. Speller and Parker Wells go back years, having played music in the same circle of friends in the ‘80s and ‘90s, even though they didn’t know each other personally.
Fast forward to when Speller got a phone call informing him that Parker Wells was living in Cinnaminson, not too far from Speller’s home base in Moorestown. The rest is history.
“The funny thing is, the call actually came from a guitar player in Sweden who was a mutual acquaintance,” Parker Wells said.
“We got together at my house, and actually did exactly what we’re doing today (March 2),” Speller recalled. “But it was just mainly the two of us, and we were playing in my room, and I noticed that there was music at one of the local Starbucks. So I asked if we could come in, (but) we were still doing our own projects.”
Speller and Parker Wells have since played live on WPRB in Princeton and recorded an album with guitarist John King, all while pursuing individual musical endeavors.
“Hopefully we do more of this kind of thing, where we’re able to improvise and stretch out, and make beautiful music,” Speller noted of the coffee and classics concert. “This is different (from) the other projects that we work on, and thank God for a place like the Perkins Center for the Arts, that we can do this because they have so many different things going on here.”
Prester is an American concert and jazz pianist, best known for his virtuosic and articulate approach to both classical and jazz idioms. Prester’s connection with his classical roots has reemerged as a major focus, leading him to perform solo concert recitals in New York, Maine, Florida, Massachusetts and Hawaii.
Speller and Parker Wells connected with Prester through a mutual friend, which led to all three playing together.
“Originally it was just going to be Jair-Rohm and I because we’ve done this several times before just together, but we figured, ‘Hey, let’s throw a monkey wrench in it,’” Speller noted. “This would be too easy if it was just the two of us.”
Parker Wells is an electric bassist and one of the founding members of the improvising band Machine Gun with Thomas Chapin and Robert Musso. He is founder of the Meeting Interdisciplinary Arts Festival in Stockholm, Sweden, and has promoted improvised and experimental music.
“I had some very powerful influences in my environment when I was coming up …” Parker Wells remembered. “I was in the right place at the right time in the right environment. Munich (Germany) in the 1970s: There was no place better to be if you aspired to be a musician, especially a bass player.”
Over the years Speller has performed several shows at Perkins, including with the Abe Speller Jazz Trio. He praised the center for giving musicians a space to share their sound.
“I can’t stress the opportunity that Perkins allows many to come in and show their art,” he remarked. “And what we’re doing today will be improvisation, and there’s certain spaces where that is prominent.”
For more information on Perkins’ upcoming concerts, visit https://perkinsarts.org.