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WYNTON KELLY

Four Classic Albums

Avid AMSC 1165

 

 

CD1

Piano Interpretations

1. Cherokee

2. Crazy He Calls Me

3. Blue Moon

4. Born To Be Blue

5. Moonlight In Vermont

6. There Will Never Be Another You

7. I Found A New Baby

8. Goodbye

Wynton Kelly - Piano

Oscar Pettiford - Bass (tracks 3, 4)

Franklin Skeete - Bass (tracks 1, 2, 5-8)

Lee Abrams - Drums

Piano

9. Whisper Not

10. Action

11. Dark Eyes

12. Strong Man

13. Ill Wind

14. Donít Explain

Wynton Kelly - Piano

Kenny Burrell - Guitar

Paul Chambers - Bass

Philly Joe Jones - Drums (tracks 9-11)

Kelly Blue

15. Kelly Blue

Wynton Kelly - Piano

Nat Adderley - Cornet

Bobby Jaspar - Flute

Benny Golson - Tenor sax

Paul Chambers - Bass

Jimmy Cobb - Drums

16. Softly As In A Morning Sunrise

Wynton Kelly - Piano

Paul Chambers - Bass

Jimmy Cobb - Drums

CD2

Kelly Blue

1. On Green Dolphin Street

2. Willow Weep For Me

3. Keep It Moving

4. Old Clothes

Tracks 1, 2, 4 - same personnel as track 16 CD1

Track 3 - same personnel as track 15 CD1

Someday My Prince Will Come

5. Someday My Prince Will Come

6. Gone With The Wind

7. Autumn Leaves

8. Come Rain Or Come Shine

9. Weird Lullaby

10. Sassy

11. Temperance

12. On Stage

13. Charís Blues

14. Love, Iíve Found You

Wynton Kelly - Piano

Paul Chambers - Bass (tracks 9, 11, 12)

Sam Jones - Bass (tracks 5-8, 10, 13, 14)

Philly Joe Jones - Drums (9, 11, 12)

Jimmy Cobb - Drums (5-8, 10, 13, 14)


In this Avid release, these sessions are both an introduction, as well as a validation of Wynton Kelly, as a pianist of style, conviction and substance. Starting with his first album as a leader for Blue Note Records in 1951, and called Piano Interpretations, Kelly showed the promise of what he was to become. The final album in this set in 1961, is called Someday My Prince Will Come, and by then Kelly had participated in Miles Davisís ground-breaking record Kind Of Blue in 1959. He had appropriately, solidified his reputation as a dynamic soloist in the hard-bop tradition.

When Piano Interpretations was released in 1951, Wynton Kelly was a nineteen year old, who had already developed a pianistic style that was influenced by both Bud Powell and Teddy Wilson. Opening the set with a full-throttle version of Ray Nobleís Cherokee, Kelly covers the keyboard with strong single-note runs. Showing his versatility, he uses block chords to set the stage for a moderate tempo version of Blue Moon. Helping to keep Kellyís sense of time on track is bassist Oscar Pettiford, whose unflagging tone is a delight. Pettiford also has a wonderful solo on the track Born To Be Blue on which Kelly shows his unwavering taste. This album has long been unavailable, so it is a welcomed inclusion in this release.

Some seven years pass before Kelly takes the role as leader on Piano (Whisper Not), recorded for Riverside Records in 1958, principally as a session with guitarist Kenny Burrell, accompanied by bassist Paul Chambers. On three tracks, Whisper Not, Action, and Dark Eyes, drummer Philly Joe Jones is added. Of these tracks, the Benny Golson composition Whisper Not may be the most interesting. All participants are fully engaged with Paul Chambersí bass noticeably effective in laying down a deep-toned beat. Philly Joe Jones proves that he is more than a time-keeper by demonstrating an assertive energy. Kelly shows his flexible and thoughtful style, while Burrell is full of quick-silver note playing. The Harold Arlen number Ill Wind is usually taken at a more moderate tempo than the swinger offered here, but it nevertheless works. The trio (Kelly/Chambers/Burrell) find a groove that is neatly unwavering, allowing everyone to grab a chorus or two. The final trio number is the Billie Holiday composition Donít Explain which was an integral part of her repertoire. In both of their solos, Kelly and Burrell capture the emotion and the sensitivity of the number.

Kelly Blue recorded for Riverside in 1959, is primarily a trio session, but has two sextet tracks, Kelly Blue and Keep It Moving, to add interest to the outing. The former is a true blues-based number written by Kelly, where he is primarily an accompanist to a strong front line charged with carrying the load. Belgian flautist Bobby Jaspar shows his mettle, with an opening solo that is sharply measured. Cornetist Nat Adderley offers his clean tone and solid technique, after which Benny Golson on tenor sax has an expressive turn on his horn. On the other sextet track, there is a strong opening from the band, with some unison playing from the front line, followed by a melodic solo from Kelly. After that each member takes a piece of the action with flautist Jaspar and cornetist Adderley particularly effective. It would have been instructive to have had more from this configuration as they produced a kinetic energy. As for the Kelly trio tracks with bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, this configuration was involved in the Miles DavisKind Of Blue album, which was recorded in the same time frame, and thus they were instinctually collaborative, as evidenced by their rendition of On Green Dolphin Street.

Someday My Prince Will Come was recorded in 1961 and it is a trio recording with two different iterations, both of which are full of creative and intuitive piano playing. The cuts with bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones are Weird Lullaby, Temperance and On Stage. Given the time that Chambers and Joe Jones spent working together in the Miles Davis Quintet, they have a symbiotic relationship that works on many levels. Here they lay a solid foundation for Kelly to work his charm and precise phrasing on these compositions. The other tracks have Sam Jones on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums, and they are equally sure-footed. All of them are keepers, as they demonstrate Kellyís hard-bop single-note lines, filled with flowing and persuasive rhythmic undercurrents.

Wynton Kelly age 39, died of an epileptic seizure on April 12, 1971 in Toronto, Canada where he was to play a gig. Much promise was still unfulfilled.

Pierre Giroux



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