By Baker Tilney
On Friday, Kevin Coelho ‘17 will celebrate the release of his second album, “Turn It Up,” with a performance at Dinkelspiel Auditorium. For Coelho, the album represents his continued artistic growth, growth which has had a home at Stanford for the past seven years.
Coelho began playing classical piano at the age of four and started using the Hammond B-3 organ—a rare instrument that is no longer manufactured—when he was 13. Coelho’s B-3 is a 1962 vintage organ, which he has been playing at shows around San Francisco since he was 13 or 14. He currently plays regular shows at Club DeLuxe and Madrone Art Bar in the city.
“I started experimenting with keyboard sounds and different stuff and none of it was good enough, so I eventually found my way to the B-3,” Coelho said.
The Stanford Jazz Workshop, founded by saxophonist Jim Nadel ‘72, played a major role in Coelho’s education as a jazz artist since he began attending the summer program seven years ago. Nadel feels that Coelho’s interaction with other musicians helped his development.
“[Coelho has] interacted with some of the greatest music minds of our time, and being the brilliant kind of musician that he is, he’s absorbed what he can from those players,” Nadel said. “That’s informed and influenced his approach to the B-3 organ and the piano keyboard.”
Coelho, who released his first album—“Funkengruven – the Joy of Driving a B3” —at age 16, says that he now focuses on finding his own voice and experimenting with new genres.
A vein of music that Coelho is exploring is R&B/hip-hop/soul/funk in the form of The St. Valentinez, a Bay Area band for which he both plays organ and arranges shows. The group raised $18,660 in a Kickstarter, which will allow them to release their debut album later this year.
This mixture of musical interests parallels Coelho’s wide-ranging personal interests, which include a lifelong interest in computer science. He began coding at a young age, and says that his academics come before music for the time being.
“I think I know enough about the music industry to know that it’s rough out there,” Coelho said. “If I get a lucky break [in music] I’ll make that decision when I get there.”
Nadel, who has worked with Coelho since his first year at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, is equally uncertain about Coelho’s future but thinks that he could be a unique talent.
“We’ve had a handful of wonderful jazz musicians come through [Stanford], a handful that went on to make a real mark in music,” said Nadel. “And Kevin might be one of them.”
Tomorrow’s release party, which is free admission, will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Dinkelspiel.
Contact Baker Tilney at satilney ‘at’ stanford.edu.