Wynton Kelly

Wynton Kelly
Wynton Kelly

Basic Infomartion

Birth nameWynton Charles Kelly
BornDecember 2, 1931
Brooklyn, New York
DiedApril 12, 1971
Toronto, Canada


1931Wynton Charles Kelly was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 2, 1931.
1935He started playing the piano. He did not have chance for much formal training in music.
1940sHe also played organ in local churches.
1943He 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.
1946He toured as member of Ray Abrams' R&B band. He joined Hot Lips Page's band for several months.
1947He made his recording debut on Hal Singer's "Cornbread", and was a pianist on a No. 1 R&B hit.
1948He recorded his first solo on Babs Gonzales' record.
Late 1940sHe played with Hot Lips Page (1948 or earlier), Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson (1949), and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (1950).
1950He made his recording debut as a leader on the Blue Note label.
1951He played with Lester Young and the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band.
1952He 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.
1954He was musical director of the army show. He left the army
1955He reunited with Washington and Gillespie. He played with Benny Carter.
1956He 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.
1957He 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.
1958He 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".
1959He 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.
1960He toured 22 cities in Europe as a member of Davis' quintet.
1961He made his first recording with Wes Montgomery.
1963He 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).
1964Little Tracy from his Verve album Comin' in the Back Door reached number 38 on Billboard's R&B chart.
1965His trio joined Wes Montgomery on a tour of the US, and released as the Kelly co-led Smokin' at the Half Note.
Late 1960sHe kept playing his trio with Cecil McBee and Ron McClure.
1970His final recording session appeared for Dexter Gordon's recording.
1971He 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.


Piano Interpretations1951Blue NoteThe debut album. Trio, with Oscar Pettiford(b), Franklin Skeete(b) and Lee Abrams (d,cong).
Piano1958RiversideQuartet, with Kenny Burrell(gt), Paul Chambers(b), Philly Joe Jones(d).
Kelly Blue1959RiversideTrio, with Paul Chambers(b), Jimmy Cobb(d); some tracks are sextet, with Nat Adderley(crn), Bobby Jaspar(fl), Benny Golson(ts) added.
Kelly Great1959Vee-JayQuintet, with Lee Morgan(tp), Wayne Shorter(ts), Paul Chambers(b), Philly Joe Jones(d).
Kelly at Midnight1960Vee-JayTrio, with Paul Chambers(b), Philly Joe Jones(d).
Wynton Kelly!1961Vee-JayTrio, 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 Come1959–61Vee-JayTrio, 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 Door1963VerveWith orchestra conducted by Claus Ogerman on most tracks, and Kenny Burrell(gt), Paul Chambers(b), Jimmy Cobb(d).
It's All Right!1964VerveQuintet 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.
Undiluted1965VerveTrio, with Paul Chambers(b), Jimmy Cobb(d); quintet on one track, with Ray Stevenson(fl), unknown(perc) added.
Smokin' at the Half Note1965VerveQuartet, with Wes Montgomery(gt), Paul Chambers(b), Jimmy Cobb(d).
Blues on Purpose1965XanaduXanadu Trio, with Paul Chambers(b), Jimmy Cobb(d).
Full View1966MilestoneTrio, with Ron McClure(b), Jimmy Cobb(d).
Interpretations1967Vee-JayQuartet, with Hank Mobley(ts), Cecil McBee(b), Jimmy Cobb(d).
Last Trio Session1968DelmarkTrio, with Paul Chambers (b), Jimmy Cobb(d).
In Concert1968Vee-JayQuartet, 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.