November 24, 1947 (age 74)|
Fort Benning, Georgia, United States
Early life and education
While growing up in Los Angeles, California, he began studying music at an early age, starting first with the violin and later moving on to the trumpet.
His first attempt to audition for Lawrence Welk came when Zell was fifteen years old. Welk's orchestra was playing at the Hollywood Palladium and when he asked if he could play a trumpet solo for him, Welk, although impressed with his talent and moxie, thought that he was too young but told him to see him again when he was a bit older and had more experience.[Clarification needed]
After completing high school, Zell played for the Freddy Martin and Russ Morgan bands before he got his draft notice. He served in the army from 1965 to 1968.
In early 1968, while with the NORAD band, Zell had a second chance to audition for Welk. Zell was asked to do a television commercial for U.S. Army recruiting and part of the job was to do an interview for the Welk show and to play trumpet for the band. After his performance on that show, Welk hired him into the band upon his completion of his military service which was nine months away.
From 1968 until the television series ended in 1982, Zell was one of The Lawrence Welk Show's most popular musicians and was often featured in trumpet solos, including "At the Cross", "Hot Lips" and "A String of Pearls".
As a born-again Christian, he is also involved in gospel ministry, pursuing both Christian and secular music, doing many concert dates and making albums.
Zell is the protégé of Welk trumpet great Norman Bailey, who gave Zell one of his trumpets.
Zell and his wife, Laura, live in Oregon. He is the father of two children.
- jazell.com, Zell's site
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