A genre-defying performer, dedicated educator, and omnivorous listener, Dan DeChellis has lived his musical vision for over 40 years, leveraging strict classical training into deep-dive explorations of modern classical improvisation, free improvisation, jazz, rock, and ambient music.
Beginning piano studies at age 7, Dan earned bachelors and masters degrees in piano performance from Appalachian State University and Duquesne University, then spent a year studying improvisation with Paul Bley and Ran Blake at the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC). In Boston and later New York, he released more than a half-dozen solo and group recordings on his own Sachimay Records label; co-founded Brooklyn’s Improvised and Otherwise Festival; performed at venues including the Knitting Factory, Tonic, CBGB’s, and Sculler’s Jazz Club; and collaborated with musicians including drummers Tatsuya Nakatani and Gerry Hemingway, saxophonists Bhob Rainey and Jack Wright, bassists Gene Perla and Reuben Radding, guitarists Philip Tomasic and Chris Forsyth, and the trio Chainworks with electronics player Brian Moran and percussionist Matt Hannafin.
In 2002, Dan and his wife, soprano Anita DeChellis, relocated to Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, opening a private music studio and establishing a presence in the regional music scene. In 2006, Dan accepted a position at Moravian College, where he currently teaches improvisation and piano and directs the Moravian Improvised Music Ensemble (M.I.M.E.), which was named Outstanding Classical Ensemble at the 2017 Lehigh Valley Music Awards. His jazz group, the Dan DeChellis Trio, has released four recordings of original compositions, and a new duo project with wife Anita DeChellis evolves the modern classical improvisation style they honed in earlier groups including the Focus Quintet and the Dan DeChellis Chamber Ensemble. Dan indulges his rock impulses with the bands Acoustic Kitty Project, Christine Martucci and the Band of Love, and the Dana Gaynor Band, and works as a studio musician for a variety of artists.
Beyond music, Dan is a father of two, a homebrewer, an avid cook, and an obsessive record collector.
“For many years, I thought of music as a process and a result, but as I get older I’m seeing it much more as simply a language and a conversation. You don’t need to decide what to talk about or where you’ll go with it; you just start talking.” — Dan DeChellis