Kelly Blue: WYNTON KELLY Sextet and Trio
Sextet on (A-1 & B-2): Nat Adderley (cnt) Bobby Jaspar (fl) Benny Golson (ts) Wynton Kelly (p) Paul Chambers (b) Jimmy Cobb (drs)
NYC; February 19, 1959
Trio (other four): Wynton Kelly (p) Paul Chambers (b) Jimmy Cobb (drs)
NYC; March 10. 1959
Kelly Blue (10:41) (Wynton Kelly)
Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise (6:24) (Hammerstein – Romberg)
Green Dolphin Street (4:39) (Bronislaw Kaper)
Willow Weep for Me (6:03) (An Ronnell)
Keep It Moving (7:26) (Wynton Kelly)
Old Clothes (7:37) (Wynton Kelly)
Kelly green is a familiar enough color, a rich and vibrant shade. Kelly Blue, on the other hand, is newly invented for this occasion. It’s a term crated to identify not only the title tune of this LP, but the album’s prevailing mood as well: a mood that is also rich and vibrant – and full of the particular shade of blue that goes with the jazz talents of WYNTON KELLY.
This album has been designed to display to the fullest Wynton’s notable blues feeling. Actually, only the opening for this recording, are “blues” in the strict sense of the word. But the other four members lend themselves fully to the same sort of soulful, blues-y treatment, adding up to an album strongly stepped in the earthy mood and spirit that we feel is best described as Kelly Blue.
Fellow musicians have recognized for quite some time that Wynton is one of the very finest pianists around, although the jazz public (as is the case unfortunately frequently) has been rather slow to learn this fact and is only recently beginning to appreciate his considerable abilities. Although still quite a young man (he was born in December of 1931), Kelly has been playing with the best since he was in his ‘teens. Most notably, he has given valuable service as an accompanist of Dinah Washington and in both large and small bands led by Dizzy Gillespie. Then, early in 1959, Miles Davis asked him to join his sextet, and it has been as a member of that notable group that Wynton has at last started to attract some long-deserved attention.
A great many of those who have worked with him will tell you without hesitation that there is no pianist today who can really be ranked ahead of Kelly as an asset to a jazz group. Both as a brilliant, fertile soloist and as a study focal point of the rhythm section he is quite invaluable. This album presents Wynton in both these roles (in addition to indicating that he is a jazz composer of considerable wit and originality). On Kelly Blue, an extended and well-structured exploration of the blues, and on Keep It Moving, he has a sextet to work with, enabling him to demonstrate, among other things, just how much he can do for an ensemble and in support of horn soloists. The other four selections turn the spotlight more fully on Wynton’s richly melodic, flawlessly swinging solo style. Old Clothes is a blues; Willow Weep for Me and Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise are familiar standards that are given fresh, resoundingly blues-tinged development here. Green Dolphin Street, derived from the theme music of a Lana Turner movie of a few years back, was converted to jazz uses by Miles. He has been particularly impressed by Wynton’s handling of the number with the Davis group, and it was at Miles’ strong suggestion that it was included in this album.
Kelly’s five co-workers on the LP are among the best of the many fine young jazzmen who have come to the fore in the past few years. To begin with, the rest of the rhythm section consists of the two with whom Wynton has been teamed in Miles’ sextet: the formidable and outstandingly melodic bassist, PAUL CHAMBERS (who also has opportunity to demonstrate once again his unique abilities as a soloist); and JIMMY COBB, a most tasteful and promising young drummer. Cornetist NAR ADDERLEY is rapidly putting an end to the practice of describing him merely as Cannonball’s younger brother; he is a constantly and rapidly growing musician with astonishing range, power and control, and a wealth of soulful ideas. BENNY GOLSON, still most widely known as the writer of many of the most highly regarded jazz compositions of the past few years, has also (particularly through his work with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1958) developed into an outstandingly firm and fluent tenor man; his two solos here offer notable evidence of this. BOBBY JASPAR, Belgian-born but now thoroughly assimilated into the American jazz vein, helps greatly in the creation of an unusual ensemble sound and also adds a couple of solo examples of probably the warmest flute sound in jazz today.
With such support, plus the support that his own fingers and imagination give him, plus a repertoire ideally suited to the blues concept on which the album is based, it seems likely that this could be the push needed to put Wynton Kelly out in front, where he belongs.
Kelly’s first album for Riverside as a leader was –
WYNTON KELLY; with Kenny Burrell, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones (RLP 12-254)
Wynton has also been featured on several other outstanding LPs, including –
Things Are Getting Better: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY, with Milt Jackson (RLP 12-286)
Cannonball Takes Charge: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Quartet (RLP 12-303)
Big Six: BLUE MITCHELL Sextet; with Johnny Griffin, Curtis Fuller (RLP 12-273)
Out of the Blue: BLUE MITCHELL Quintet; with Benny Golson, Art Blakey (RLP 12-293)
That’s Him: ABBEY LINCOLN; with Sonny Rollins, Max Roach (RLP 12-251)
It’s Magic: ABBEY LINCOLN; with Kenny Dorham, Benny Golson (RLP 12-277)
Drums Around the World: PHILLY JOE JONES’ Big Band Sounds; with Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan (RLP 12-302)
Nat Adderley and Golson are featured on Riverside albums of their own –
Branching Out: NAT ADDERLEY; with Johnny Griffin, ‘The Three Sound’ (RLP 12-285)
Much Brass: NAT ADDERLEY Sextet; with Wynton Kelly (RLP 12-301)
The modern Touch: BENNY GOLSON Sextet; with J. J. Johnson, Kenny Dorham, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, Max Roach (RLP 12-256)
The Other Side of BENNY GOLSON; with Curtis Fuller, Philly Joe Jones (RLP 12-290)
A HIGH FIDELITY STREOPHONIC Recording – Riverside-Reeves SPECTROSONIC
High Fidelity Engineering
Produced, and notes written by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover produced and designed by PAUL BACON – KENBRAREN – HARRIS LEWINE
Engineer: JACK HIGGINS (Reeves Sound Studios)
Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS (Components Crop.) on a HYDROFEED lathe.
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are released by BILL GRAUER RPODUCTIONS, Inc
553 West 51st Street New York 19, N.Y.