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Paul van Kessel started singing at the age of eight in the church choir of Grevenbicht, a small village in the south of the Netherlands. At the age of 17, he began singing with a funk band in the nearby city of Sittard. The band continued playing in clubs, at festivals and musical venues for the next seven years, primarily in the southern province of Limburg. 


Around the age of 20, Paul enrolled to study jazz at the Conservatory of Maastricht and Amsterdam. In 2001 he moved to Amsterdam, where he still lives today. 


During his studies and soon after graduating, Paul became a familiar figure in Dutch jazz circles, developing into one of the few male jazz vocalists in the Netherlands. After many guest appearances in big bands and groups, he joined the popular Dutch “small” big band, The Young Sinatras, as the lead vocalist. They recorded two albums together and gigged continually for eight years throughout the Netherlands, as well as in Germany, France, Belgium and England. They also performed several times at the North Sea Jazz festival in Rotterdam. 


Paul’s voice is ideally suited to both small jazz ensembles and large arranged, orchestrated music. With his home base in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and a footprint across Europe, he has performed at prestigious jazz festivals and clubs worldwide. Highlights include performances at esteemed events such as the Joy Of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, the World Jazz Festival in Mumbai and Bangalore, and the Samui Jazz Festival, Thailand. 


Extending beyond solo performances; he has collaborated with various groups and theatrical productions such as "New York Round Midnight," "Wicked Jazz Sounds," "Crooners Echo," "The Young Sinatras," "The New Cool Collective Big Band," "The Metropole Orchestra," and "The Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw."


Since Paul's solo releases 'Where's My Home’, ‘Damn Dog’ and 'Whatever Trouble', he has taken control of his mixes, nurturing a newfound passion. This journey has given him a broader perspective on the entire creative process, from the inception of melodies on his guitar to the recording phase itself, and to achieve the perfect balance between them.


In 2023, Paul released his EP 'High Or Low', recorded in his Amsterdam home studio. With a canal view in the heart of Amsterdam, equipped with the finest instruments, analog gear, and vintage mics, Paul immersed himself in the creative process, taking on multiple roles from lead singer to writer, instrumentalist, and producer, marking a transformative personal challenge.


Early in 2024, Paul released two new singles, 'Why Don't You Do Right?' and ‘Cosmic Slop’, each offering a fresh take on jazz, blues and funk classics. Through rearrangements, he infused them with an acoustic jazz flair, accentuated by piano, acoustic guitar, and soulful backing vocals. These singles serve as an introduction to his forthcoming album, 'Don't Explain', scheduled to release in spring 2024. The album signifies a new chapter for Paul, showcasing a dynamic "live" trio featuring Sebastiaan van Bavel on piano, Lean Robbemont on drums, and Paul himself on bass/guitar and vocals. With this ensemble, Paul seamlessly blends his passion for classic jazz with a deep appreciation for blues and soul, embodying a soulful crooner known for his affinity towards slow grooves that provide ample room for heartfelt storytelling.


Paul’s music receives wide recognition through jazz radio broadcasts like Radio6, NPO Radio2 Soul & Jazz and Sublime FM, where he has been a regular guest for a number of years. He has been nominated several times for a Radio6 Award for Best Male Vocalist, Best Single and Best Jazz Talent. 


His balance of perfectionism and playfulness, combined with his passion for jazz, musical versatility and propensity for cross-genre exploration, makes him a singularly exciting artist who can celebrate the creative vocabularies of others without sacrificing his own. 



Anne Phillips: music reviewer, Johannesburg


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