Throughout the 1960s, still unacquainted with the avant-garde movement, Campbell performed in the big bands of the Manhattan Community College. On through the 1970s to the present he has performed primarily within the context of free jazz, spending some of this period studying with Yusef Lateef.
In the early 1990s he moved to Holland and performed regularly with Klaas Hekman and Don Cherry. In addition to leading his own groups, he has performed with Yo La Tengo, William Parker, Peter Brotzmann, Matthew Shipp, and other improvisers. Upon returning to the United States he began leading his group Other Dimensions in Music and also formed the Pyramid Trio—a trio formed with William Parker that is unique for not employing the traditional use of a piano. He performs regularly as part of the Festival of New Trumpet Music, which is held annually in New York City.