Born: November 25, 1927 Primary Instrument: Piano
One of the two great stride pianists (along with Ralph Sutton) to emerge during the 1940s when members of their generation were generally playing bebop, Wellstood kept an open mind toward later styles (he loved Monk) while sounding at his best playing classic jazz. A little more subtle than Sutton, Wellstood was also a powerful pianist who was a superb interpreter of the music of James P. Johnson and his contemporaries. He came to New York with Bob Wilber's Wildcats in 1946 and caught on in the trad jazz scene quickly. By 1947 he was playing with Sidney Bechet, and in the 1950s he mostly worked with veteran players including trumpeters Roy Eldridge, Rex Stewart, and Charlie Shavers and the Eddie Condon gang. He was in the intermission band at Condon's starting in 1956 and later was house pianist at the Metropole and Nick's. After a period with Gene Krupa's quartet, he toured with the World's Greatest Jazz Band. Wellstood remained active throughout his all-too-short life, playing solo concerts, performing at jazz parties, and recording quite a few memorable albums.