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date: 12 November 2019

Kelly, Wynton locked

  • Bill Dobbins


(b Jamaica, Dec 2, 1931; d Toronto, ON, April 12, 1971). American jazz pianist. His family moved to the United States when he was four years old and settled in Brooklyn. As a youth he played professionally in rhythm-and-blues bands. By fusing earthy blues elements with those of the bop style as exemplified by Bud Powell, he developed a highly accessible and personal approach to jazz piano playing which influenced many subsequent performers. After working with the saxophonist Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis and the singer Dinah Washington, Kelly gained attention as a soloist while performing with Lester Young and Dizzy Gillespie. He continued to work for Washington and Gillespie in the mid-1950s and also played with Benny Carter and Charles Mingus. Although he frequently led his own trio from 1957 until his death, he was best known as a member of Miles Davis’s sextets and quintets from 1959. A consistent and sometimes brilliant improviser, he had exceptional skill as an accompanist, although this often overshadowed his rhythmically infectious solo style. His influence can be heard in the early work of Victor Feldman, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and other pianists who emerged the 1960s....

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