Wynton Kelly

Wynton Kelly
Wynton Kelly

Basic Infomartion

Birth name Wynton Charles Kelly
Born December 2, 1931
Brooklyn, New York
Died April 12, 1971
Toronto, Canada


Year Note
1931 Wynton Charles Kelly was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 2, 1931.
1935 He started playing the piano. He did not have chance for much formal training in music.
1940s He also played organ in local churches.
1943 He began playing professionally, as a member of R&B groups. He played with brothers Lee and Ray Abrams, Ahmed Abdul-Malik, Ernie Henry, and Cecil Payne.
1946 He toured as member of Ray Abrams' R&B band. He joined Hot Lips Page's band for several months.
1947 He made his recording debut on Hal Singer's "Cornbread", and was a pianist on a No. 1 R&B hit.
1948 He recorded his first solo on Babs Gonzales' record.
Late 1940s He played with Hot Lips Page (1948 or earlier), Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson (1949), and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (1950).
1950 He made his recording debut as a leader on the Blue Note label.
1951 He played with Lester Young and the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band.
1952 He played in Lester Young's band and Dizzy Gillespie's band. He joined into the army. He recruited Duke Pearson into the show band, but two of them were only black musicians there.
1954 He was musical director of the army show. He left the army
1955 He reunited with Washington and Gillespie. He played with Benny Carter.
1956 He was part of Charles Mingus' band for a tour of Washington DC, California, and Vancouver. He recorded with Billie Holiday, also played for the Blue Note debuts of Johnny Griffin and Sonny Rollins.
1957 He left Mingus' band to rejoin Gillespie's band for touring Canada and the southern United States. He played as a guest in Art Blakey's group (released as Theory of Art), and also joined recording for Griffin's A Blowin' Session, Gillespie, Clark Terry. He played the bass, for one track of Abbey Lincoln's That's Him!. (Because the regular bassist, Paul Chambers, became drunk and fell asleep in the studio.) He left Gillespie and formed his own trio.
1958 He recorded his second album, the quartet Piano, as a leader for the Riverside label. He released his first album, Piano Interpretations, on Blue Note, as a leader. He played for recordings Betty Carter, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Blue Mitchell, and Hank Mobley. He also played organ on one track of Pepper Adams and Jimmy Knepper's The Pepper-Knepper Quintet. He released "Piano".
1959 He released "Kelly Blue". He joined Miles Davis's band. He made his first album for Vee-Jay Records, in a quintet. He recorded with John Coltrane, for one track, "Naima", from Coltrane's Giant Steps.
1960 He toured 22 cities in Europe as a member of Davis' quintet.
1961 He made his first recording with Wes Montgomery.
1963 He left Miles Davis's band, and formed his own trio with Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb (The trio stayed together until 1969, when Chambers died).
1964 Little Tracy from his Verve album Comin' in the Back Door reached number 38 on Billboard's R&B chart.
1965 His trio joined Wes Montgomery on a tour of the US, and released as the Kelly co-led Smokin' at the Half Note.
Late 1960s He kept playing his trio with Cecil McBee and Ron McClure.
1970 His final recording session appeared for Dexter Gordon's recording.
1971 He died in Toronto, Canada, following an epileptic seizure, on April 12. He had travelled there from New York to play with George Reed and Herb Marshall.


Title RecordingYear Rabel Note
Piano Interpretations 1951 Blue Note The debut album. Trio, with Oscar Pettiford(b), Franklin Skeete(b) and Lee Abrams (d,cong).
Piano 1958 Riverside Quartet, with Kenny Burrell(gt), Paul Chambers(b), Philly Joe Jones(d).
Kelly Blue 1959 Riverside Trio, with Paul Chambers(b), Jimmy Cobb(d); some tracks are sextet, with Nat Adderley(crn), Bobby Jaspar(fl), Benny Golson(ts) added.
Kelly Great 1959 Vee-Jay Quintet, with Lee Morgan(tp), Wayne Shorter(ts), Paul Chambers(b), Philly Joe Jones(d).
Kelly at Midnight 1960 Vee-Jay Trio, with Paul Chambers(b), Philly Joe Jones(d).
Wynton Kelly! 1961 Vee-Jay Trio, with Paul Chambers(b), Sam Jones(b) and Jimmy Cobb(d). Additional performances from these sessions were released as Someday My Prince Will Come.
Someday My Prince Will Come 1959–61 Vee-Jay Trio, with Paul Chambers(b), Sam Jones(b) and Jimmy Cobb(d); one track is quintet, as on Kelly Great. Additional performances from these sessions were released as Wynton Kelly!.
Comin' in the Back Door 1963 Verve With orchestra conducted by Claus Ogerman on most tracks, and Kenny Burrell(gt), Paul Chambers(b), Jimmy Cobb(d).
It's All Right! 1964 Verve Quintet on most tracks, with Kenny Burrell(gt), Paul Chambers(b), Jimmy Cobb(d), Candido Camero(cong); The Tommy Rey Caribe Steel Band added on one track.
Undiluted 1965 Verve Trio, with Paul Chambers(b), Jimmy Cobb(d); quintet on one track, with Ray Stevenson(fl), unknown(perc) added.
Smokin' at the Half Note 1965 Verve Quartet, with Wes Montgomery(gt), Paul Chambers(b), Jimmy Cobb(d).
Blues on Purpose 1965 Xanadu Xanadu Trio, with Paul Chambers(b), Jimmy Cobb(d).
Full View 1966 Milestone Trio, with Ron McClure(b), Jimmy Cobb(d).
Interpretations 1967 Vee-Jay Quartet, with Hank Mobley(ts), Cecil McBee(b), Jimmy Cobb(d).
Last Trio Session 1968 Delmark Trio, with Paul Chambers (b), Jimmy Cobb(d).
In Concert 1968 Vee-Jay Quartet, with George Coleman(ts), Ron McClure(b) Jimmy Cobb(d).


  • Kelly’s first cousin is the father of jazz bassist Marcus Miller, who also played with Miles Davis.