Recording Date: Sep 2,30, 1966
Recorded at Plaza Sound Studios (New York City); Sept., 1966.
Pianist Wynton Kelly's next-to-last set as a leader (he would record a slightly later date for Delmark) featured him at a time when his influence was waning and he was overshadowed by more advanced players. However, Kelly's impact would begin to grow again after his death, when the Young Lions movement began in the early '80s; certainly pianist Benny Green was greatly touched by Kelly's conception. This Milestone trio set, reissued on CD, matches Kelly with bassist Ron McClure and drummer Jimmy Cobb on a fine program mostly filled with standards but also including the then-recent Burt Bacharach hit "Walk on By" and Kelly's original "Scufflin'."
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
Wynton Kelly is, among other things, very possibly the finest jazz piano accompanist of our day. And that particular talent is very probably one of Wynton's biggest problems.
Actually, Kelly is in no real danger of obscurity. He has performed far too often and too well in countless nightclubs and recording studios. Throughout a career that has to date taken up more than half of his 30-odd years, this "youthful veteran" (to coin a cliche) has spent his playing time in close collaboration with the very best. And he plays in first-class company because they insist on it. Wynton is probably best known for his several years as a key member of Miles Davis's rhythm section, but he has also been prominent in the record sessions and/or bands of such as Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, Dinah Washington, Sonny Rollins, Wes Montgomery-but why continue; I'm sure you get the idea.
But even if it doesn't threaten obscurity, being something like the World's Greatest Accompanier can be horribly frustrating. When you play under other people's leadership, no matter how much they love and admire you, you of course play material of their choice and pretty much in the vein they dictate. That has been the case most of the time for Kelly. In clubs he has fought back in the past couple of years by leading his own trio, but on records it has remained a problem-for even when he has had albums under his own name, there has all too often been someone in charge with a great idea for a top-seller. Thus, he has usually ended up playing this particular tune that somebody insisted on, or being instructed to play real funky like that other piano player who just had a hit single.... Being a pleasant, easy-going fellow, Wynton tends to go along with this sort of thing, which to my way of thinking is a very bad scene.
Having known him for quite a long time, and having utilized his remarkable services on a great many records, I have long nursed an ambition to put the real Wynton Kelly on display, to let him get out into full view. That's where the album title-and for that matter the whole idea of this album-comes from.
That idea is simply to let Wynton do those things that he can do as well or better than anyone else, and to give him a pretty free hand in picking his material. Among other things, Kelly can swing flawlessly, at just about any tempo; so there's plenty of that here. He can play a loping, finger-popping, blues-feeling number to perfection, and so the album starts off with "I Want a Little Girl." I've always noticed that leaders on record dates like to keep as much as possible of the solo space on the pretty ballads for themselves-except that every one lets Wynton have at least a taste of solo. So there are two such ballads here for him to take all the spotlight on: "What a Diff'rence a Day Made," which he used to play with Dinah; and "Born to Be Blue."
Kelly informed me that he had a friend with some nice tunes; I informed him that everyone has one of those friends, and forget it But friend Rudy Stevenson, who plays guitar with Nina Simone, turned out to have two that really are something else: "I Thought," which allows Wynton to show how he treats a jazz waltz; and "Dontcha Hear Me Callin' to Ya," which is about as grits-and- greens as the title suggests. Kelly himself is not a composer of intricate melodies, but he does consistently come up with deceptively simple, catchy blues lines, like "Scufflin'." The tricky non-waltz version of "Autumn Leaves" is the way his trio has been playing that standard for some time. Finally, the Dionne Warwick hit, "Walk On By," is not on the album because some a&r man thought it could be a sure-fire smash single, but strictly because the Burt Bacharach tune has intrigued Wynton for some time, and he wanted to try it his way.
The pianist is more than ably supported here by what at the time of recording was a regular working trio. Jimmy Cobb and Wynton have been a team since their Miles Davis days, and as far as both of them are concerned will be a team forever. Ron McClure is a highly promising young bassist; he has also worked with Marian McPartland and (as if to show his great versatility) not long after these record dates joined the Charles Lloyd Quartet for a Russian tour.
- Orrin Keepnews