Wynton KELLY – Kelly Blue 1959

Wynton KELLY – Kelly Blue 1959
Trio and Sextet.
Recorded in New York on February 19th 1959
1991 Issue.


Jazz is ultimately based on the blues, or “blue notes.” Consequently, KELLY BLUE couldn’t be a more fitting play on words to describe pianist Wynton Kelly, an extremely bluesy jazz musician. His originals “Old Clothes” and “Kelly Blue” are both straight-up blues tunes. These tracks are carefree and bouncy, and Kelly plays exciting, colorful solos on both. Like any good jazz pianist, Kelly uses accents to create the needed syncopation in the music. But his punchy, almost percussive approach gives his solos even more dimension, power, and forward momentum.
“Green Dolphin Street” is another excellent track, where Kelly swings effortlessly, due in part to the fabulous rhythm section of Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb. Kelly’s solo here has a superb ebb and flow. His snaky runs up and down the keyboard make this one of the album’s true highlights. The horn players all keep pace with Kelly too. Tenor saxophonist Benny Golson is especially adroit, and plays some terrific solos on the title track and “Keep it Moving.”
The album features five other jazz legends performing on a well-executed session during what is arguably one of the most important years in jazz music.
Producer and jazz critic Orrin Keepnews described the album as “a repertoire ideally suited to the blues concept on which the album is based” Jazz critic Scott Yanow calls Kelly Blue “A fine example of his talents”
Originally released by Riverside Records, the album has been reissued on CD a several times since 1989 by Riverside and OJC. One is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players. The one from 1989 is a straight mono remaster. 2009 saw a mono vinyl re-issue.
Wynton Kelly was a relatively new member of the Miles Davis band when he made this 1959 session, but he had already formed a strong musical partnership with bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb. The trio would stay together long after their departure from the Davis band and a further tenure with Wes Montgomery. Kelly was an original stylist, who had a lyrical and economical approach and a way of insinuating the blues into everything he touched. You can feel it here in the moving “Willow Weep for Me” and the bright takes on “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” and “On Green Dolphin Street,” just getting established as standards in the jazz repertoire and getting distinctive treatments here. His light, flowing lines are well matched by Cobb’s spare accents and Chambers’s own melodic bass. Benny Golson on tenor, Bobby Jasper on flute, and Nat Adderley on cornet join in to make up a powerful sextet on the extended title tune and two takes of another Kelly original, “Keep It Moving.” It’s apparent how much Kelly’s comping could add to a soloist’s work.
By Stuart Broomer. AMG.
A great little session from Wynton Kelly – one that has him breaking out of the lyrical roots of his trio work, and hitting some harder notes as a leader of a larger hardbop group! The album features Kelly working in both trio and sextet format – the latter with players who include Nat Adderley, Bobby Jaspar, and Benny Golson; and the former with Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb (who also play with the sextet). The sextet tracks are the ones that we really love here – as they tend to feature 2 long original numbers by Kelly – much more open than usual, and in a mode that was rarely captured as well on Wynton’s albums as a leader. The trio sides are still nice too, though – although a bit more like some of his other sides – and the album features 6 tracks in all, titles that include “Kelly Blue”, “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise”, “Green Dollphin Street”, “Keep It Moving”, and “Old Clothes”.
From Dusty Groove.
I foolishly pegged Kelly as somehow lesser than Miles’ other 50s and 60s pianists, just based on the little bits of his playing as an accompanist that I remembered, but this LP proved me very very wrong. Without “Kelly Blue” and “Keep it Moving” it’s still a solid 4 stars, but those two originals push it over the edge. How is “Kelly Blue” not a jazz standard? It’s a super classy hard bop-style tune, in the vein of “Night Train”, but the kicker is Bobby Jaspar’s flute which takes the main melody and sounds absolutely fantastic here. Solo-wise, Nat Adderley on cornet is probably the most adept in this style, but Jaspar and Benny Golson on tenor sax aren’t far behind.

The rest is Wynton in a trio format with Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb filling out the rhythm section. On both “Willow Weep For Me” and “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise”, the basic form is AABA – in both cases Kelly is just itching to solo and doesn’t even finish through the B section before he lets his own ideas run free. He especially loves sliding in and out of ‘blue notes’ and seems to know exactly when to let the block chords in both hands take over. “Green Dolphin Street” shows just how lyrical he can be, and on the blues “Old Clothes” (another Kelly original) he opts for simpler, shorter phrases. Add this to the already lengthy list of ‘great jazz albums of 1959′.
By Coolidge.
Wynton Kelly- Piano
Nat Adderley– Cornet
Bobby Jaspar– Flute
Benny Golson– Tenor Sax
Paul Chambers– Bass
Jimmy Cobb– Drums
01. Kelly Blue
02. Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise
03. Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me
04. On Green Dolphin Street
05. Willow Weep for Me
06. Keep It Moving (Take 4)
07. Keep It Moving (Take 3)
08. Old Clothes

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