His family moved from the island of Jamaica to Brooklyn, New York City when Kelly was four, and he started his professional career as a teenager, initially as a member of R&B groups. After working in the big band and small groups led by Dizzy Gillespie, he was a member of Miles Davis' Quintet from 1959 to 1963.
Wynton Kelly was one of the most prolific sideman pianists of his era, performing on scores of jazz albums, and led albums under his own name for the Riverside and Vee-Jay labels. After leaving Davis's group, along with Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb, he formed a trio which worked regularly during the 1960s.
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