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Wynton KELLY – Piano 1958

Posted in JAZZ, Wynton KELLY on December 26, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Wynton KELLY – Piano  1958
1995 Issue.

Jazz

With the exception of an album for Blue Note in 1951, this was pianist Wynton Kelly’s first opportunity to record as a leader. At the time he was still a relative unknown but would soon get a certain amount of fame as Miles Davis’s favorite accompanist. With guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Paul Chambers and (on three of the seven selections) drummer Philly Joe Jones, Kelly performs four jazz standards, Oscar Brown, Jr.’s “Strong Man” and two of his originals. Kelly became a major influence on pianists of the 1960s and ’70s and one can hear the genesis of many other players in these swinging performances. The CD reissue adds an alternate take of “Dark Eyes” to the original program.
By Scott Yanow.
**
Born: December 02, 1931, Jamaica
Died: April 12, 1971, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

As the cover of this album should suggest, there is a lot of Wynton Kelly on display here. Or, turning the phrase around a bit to put it more explicitly in musical terms, Kelly is a whole lot of piano player-about as much piano player as you’re likely to find anywhere. He is young (born in 1931), but having made his professional start at about the age of twelve, he is also a thoroughly experienced veteran, his style and approach fully formed and individual.

Extending the cover’s multiple-angle theme, it can be noted that Wynton is also a remarkably versatile and many-sided pianist: a top accompanist, an outstanding ensemble musician in big band or small, and above all a sensitive and lyrical soloist. Spotlighted on this LP with a top-level rhythm section, he gets a full-scale opportunity to show his stuff, to demonstrate that, whether driving or tender, rhythmic or melodic, he is always an unusually refreshing, skillful and inventive jazz artist.

All this, when in addition the man concerned is still in his mid-twenties, may seem a large order: but the simple fact is that nothing written here would appear even slightly out of line to any of the very many musicians who know and respect his talents and value highly Wynton’s presence on a job or at a recording session.

On the other hand, despite this strong ‘inside’ reputation, this initial LP for Riverside happens to be Wynton’s first recording as a leader in a half-dozen years, and only his second altogether. In this era of what sometimes seems indiscriminate recording activity, this is surely startling. We would hope that the present album will do much to blast a path for Wynton through that mysterious roadblock that so often separates valuable jazz artists from the attention of the public for so long. Nevertheless, Wynton’s situation up to now is worth noting as a startling example of the strange irrelevance of merit to fame in jazz. When both the worthy and the unworthy can quickly reach the top, while both kinds can also remain non-famous, it is somehow worse even than if only second-raters became stars-then, at least, one could safely mutter about the low standards of public taste. But as matters stand, the muttering must be limited to fairly bewildered, vague phrases about the importance of “the breaks,” or “proper exposure,” or something.

To Kelly, raised in Brooklyn, involved with music for almost as long as he can remember, and with a varied, solid background under his belt (including a hitch in the rhythm and blues field, three years as Dinah Washington’s accompanist, and work with both Lester Young and Dizzy Gillespie), cutting his debut album at the age of twenty must have seemed like an early big break. But it wasn’t. It was followed by two years in the Army, and then a span of time in which he appeared to be permanently type-cast as a sideman. Kelly was working-most notably for a year with Gillespie’s big band; and was being used on a variety of record dates (usually being singled out for approving critical notice); but that is not nearly enough if you happen to be a maturing young talent, ambitiously anxious to present yourself to the world on your own terms. Supposedly alert record companies can have their blind spots-a crack we feel quite justified in making because we too were ready to slip into that pattern of regarding Wynton as a fine choice to work on someone else’s date, but not thinking; past that. It was not until the night that a mutual friend, the late altoist Ernie Henry, bawled us out for this that we woke up to the realities of the case. Those realities-which have to do with just how much strength and wing and beauty this really exceptional pianist has to offer-are finally available on this IP for all to observe.

There are actually two quite different flavors here, which can be taken as further evidence of the many-sidedness of Kelly. The quarter / trio division is not dictated by tempo (almost all the numbers are within the swinging middle-tempo range that Wynton prefers) ; it’s just that some selections seemed to call for the more subdued, moody, almost delicate vein that fits with backing by bass-and-guitar only, while others indicated a firm, full-bodied approach and, therefore, the addition of drums. Kenny Burrell’s guitar is in the ‘shift’ position, serving rhythmically in the tightly-knit trio and switching to more of a horn’s role when Philly Joe Jones takes over the job of supplying a basic drive.

Two of the trio tunes were brought to Wynton’s attention when he and Paul Chambers worked with an all-star quintet backing singer Abbey Lincoln (RLP 12-251) : Strong Man, a moody new tune that sounds as if it ought to become a jazz standard; and Billie Holiday’s Don’t Explain (which, incidentally, Wynton has not recorded on piano before: he played bass on a pianoless version in Abbey’s album). Ill Wind is a plaintive, relatively neglected Harold Arlen strain. The fourth item is named in honor of the assumption that somehow You Can’t Get Away from playing a blues on just about every LP. On the quartet side, there is a rhythmic updating of the Russian folk-melody, Dark Eyes; an opportunity for everyone to wail on the catchy original, Action; and an effective alteration of Benny Golson’s wonderfully melodic Whisper Not, which was originally written for the big Gillespie band.

There is little need for formal introduction of the supporting cast. Kenny Burrell is the young De-troiter who is currently doing so much to bring the guitar back into a frequent and important role in modern jazz. Paul Chambers, from he same city, is one of the most impressive new bassists of recent years and a formidable part of Miles Davis’ group. Philly Joe Jones, also one of Miles’ mainstays, is to our way of thinking well-described by pointing out that he is the drummer most often used on Riverside recording sessions.
By Orrin Keepnews.
**
In 1957 that produced the fine Sittin’ In album on the Verve label. In 1957 Kelly left Gillespie and formed his own trio. He finally recorded his second album as a leader for the Riverside label in January 1958, six years after his Blue Note debut.

In early 1959 Miles Davis invited Wynton to joint his sextet as a replacement for Bill Evans. Kind of Blue, recorded in March 1959, on which he shares the piano stool with Evans, Kelly excels on the track “Freddie Freeloader” a medium temp side that is closest to the more theory-free jazz of the mid-fifties. Wynton proved a worthy successor to Red Garland and Bill Evans in the Miles Davis combo, together with bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, an old colleague from Dinah Washington’s rhythm section, he established a formidable rapport.

During his stay with Davis, Kelly recorded his fine Kelly Blue for Riverside and three albums for Vee Jay. By the end of 1962 Kelly, Chambers and Cobb formed the Wynton Kelly Trio, which soon made its mark. The Kelly Trio remained a regular unit for a number of years and reached the height of their popularity after they joined up with guitarist Wes Montgomery, resulting in three albums, a live set in New York’s Half Note, a September 1965 studio album for Verve, and a live set at the Half Note for the Xanadu Label. Kelly’s trio, now with Cecil McBee and Ron McClure kept working during the late 1960s until he died of an epileptic fit on April 12, 1971, aged only 39.
**
Wynton Kelly– Piano
Kenny Burrell– Guitar
Paul Chambers– Bass
Philly Joe Jones– Drums
**
01.Whisper Not  07:12
02.Action 07:12
03.Dark Eyes 05:59
04.Strong Man 05:17
05.Ill Wind  04:25
06.Don’t Explain  05:36
07.You Can’t Get Away  06:24
08.Dark Eyes 05:19
**
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Wynton KELLY – Kelly Blue 1959

Posted in JAZZ, Wynton KELLY on November 25, 2010 by whoisthemonk

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

Jazz

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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