Wynton Kelly “Kelly Blue” (1959)

Track Selection: “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise”. >


Wynton Kelly (p) Paul Chambers (b) Nat Adderley (cnt) Jimmy Cobb (d) Bobby Jaspar (fl) Benny Golson (ts) Jack Higgins engineer, Jack Matthews mastering, recorded at Reeves Sound Studios, New York; February 10 &  March 10, 1959


Wynton Kelly first caught critical attention following his contribution to the iconic Miles Davis “Kind of Blue” in 1958, along with Bill Evans. This record came soon after in 1959, with Wynton as leader, and features some high-profile players like Benny Golson on Tenor and Bobby Jaspar on flute. Paul Chambers steadfast upright bass anchors everything. Piano trios had already become an established a niche, and Wynton goes beyond with a variety of formats from trio to sextet.

The music is bluesy jazz as you might expect, and a satisfying evening listen, partnering a glass of wine and a relaxing sofa. It’s not for pushing the musical boundaries, but the boundaries can wait for another day. It’s a good happy session

Vinyl: RLP 12-298 US Original Mono, deep groove.

Riverside original pressings are great. This is probably my first US Riverside original, given the prevalence of UK Riverside releases this side of the pond, and it is a very fine pressing. Full rich vibrant mono, with great presence and musicality. Glad to have a US benchmark against which to judge UK pressings. With Bill Evans a key contributor to the Riverside catalogue there is no possible excuse for not knowing how to record the piano, and Kelly’s piano does have the presence of a piano, harmonics, resonance and all, marvelous. Would that other engineers had the same grasp. Yes you Rudy.

The run-out captures Riverside’s chaotic record pressing factory process, with scratched out catalogue errors, a million miles from the smooth systematic Pastylite process.

The sticker on the back cover takes me back to the Seventies and the long disappeared Soho record shop “Harlequin” where I used to call in a couple of evenings every week after work. Berwick Street nonetheless remains a vinyl Mecca in Soho.

Collectors Corner

This copy had remained for some years in a suburban record store with a very low footfall as far as jazz was concerned. Too many of the records there would have been snapped up long ago in a more visible location, so it was my good fortune to stumble on it, at the recommendation of my doctor, who lives not far away. I knew of it but had ignored it for years on the strength of its external “Rock n Roll Memorabilia” signage. Goes to show that good fortune can be found where you least expect it.

I feel a Fortune Cookie Moment coming on…

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