One of the great pianists of the post-World War II era. Originally influenced by Nat Cole, Kelly began in small bands around New York in the late '40s. Working with Lester Young and Dizzy Gillespie, he soon became the favorite session pianist in New York, featured with Miles Davis (1959-1963), in a cooperative trio with Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb (1964-1967), and often with Wes Montgomery. He is present as a sideman on dozens of recordings (the albums from the '50s and early '60s are good), though the mantle of leadership is not worn easily by Kelly. His Verve recordings from the mid-'60s tend to be more commercial. Any time he recorded with Chambers and a good drummer (Cobb, Blakey, PJ Jones, etc.) as a rhythm section, is a listener's delight.
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