Michael Bellar is the founder, composer and keyboardist of the AS-IS Ensemble, an alt-jazz group that has performed at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and South By Southwest.
During a tour of the Southeast, the group will play the Sentient Bean on June 6.
"We've got a gig with the Jazz Artists of Charleston, held in conjunction with the Spoleto Festival," Bellar says.
"The AS-IS Ensemble is my baby. It's been through a couple of incarnations."
Both Bellar and drummer Brad Wentworth are from Boone, N.C.
"I changed my band because of this guy," Bellar says.
"I asked him who he liked to play with, and he said bassist Robert Jost. We've been together about seven years. It's an amazing lesson to keep a band together for so long."
Bellar says he plays jazz for people who don't like jazz.
"It's fun, weird, improvisation music," he says. "We play a lot of original music and also play a lot of deconstructed covers of other people's music."
The band has just completed two albums, "Oh No Oh Wow," which is all original music, and "Oh Yes," which is all covers. "This is not the release tour, which will be in the fall, but we will have copies available," Bellar says.
"A strange kind of jazz for people who don't like jazz is the way we put it," he says. "We don't play standards, but we do songs from Bill Withers, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder."
Bellar considers himself lucky.
"The fun thing about this group is going from a small venue in Savannah to playing a jazz festival the next day to playing an amazing rock session the next," he says.
A member of a musical family, Bellar says it was inevitable that he would be a musician.
"It was a curse that both my parents are classical musicians," he says. "I really think I was born into it.
"I remember my father taking on three trips around the U.S. while I was in elementary school," Bellar says. "I went to a classical conservatory, but I was much more a composer. I'm the main songwriter for the group."
Some of the music recorded in the group's albums came from Bellar's writing music for modern dance companies.
"I've been getting commissions to write music for them and have had two different relationships with two different companies I wrote music for," he says.
Inspiration also comes from various rhythms, Bellar says. "I hear a rhythm around me or start thinking about it," he says.
During his career, Bellar has performed music on six continents and appeared on "Late Show with David Letterman," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "The Ellen Degeneres Show," "Good Morning America," "Regis and Kelly" and the "CBS Morning Show."
Members of the group have toured and performed with artists such as Amos Lee, Art Garfunkel, Howie Day, Aretha Franklin and Bjork.
"That helps bring in a lot of different rock and pop and other kinds of elements into this band," Bellar says.
Influenced by numerous musicians, Bellar currently listens to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.
"It's all soul music to me," Bellar says. "I hear a lot of similarities in those fields."
The audience in Savannah can expect the unexpected.
"This is live music," Bellar says.
"It's different every night. I am lucky enough to play with certain musicians, and I want us to play as much as we can. We will be playing music from both new records while in Savannah."
IF YOU GO
What: Michael Bellar and the AS-IS Ensemble
When: 8 p.m. June 6
Where: The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave.
Info: 912-232-4447, www.sentientbean.com