Wynton Kelly: Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise

12 Apr

Remembering pianist Wynton Kelly on the anniversary of his death in 1971.

Kelly had a big seat to fill at the piano of Miles Davis’ group when he replaced Bill Evans, but he did so so well that when Kelly left Davis’ group to form his own, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb left, too.

Kelly recorded more than a dozen albums as a leader, but he accompanied more than 50 others on their albums — most famously Davis on Someday My Prince Will Come, Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley and even John Coltrane for an album.

Miles Davis on Kelly, from Brian Knight in the vermontreview.tripod.com: “I loved the way Wynton played, because he was a combination of Red Garland and Bill Evans; he could play almost anything. Plus, he could play behind a soloist like a “mother#$%^er”, man. Cannonball and Trane loved him, and so did I.”

Born in Jamaica in 1931, Kelly’s family moved to Brooklyn when he was young. He was only 39 when he died in Toronto of an epileptic seizure.

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