The Vinyl Junkie Reviews Wynton Kelly’s “Undiluted”

Wynton Kelly

The Vinyl Junkie

All jazz fans: If you’ve never heard of Wynton Kelly, you need to listen to him. He remains one of the most unheralded pianists of the 1960s and rates with such luminaries as Horace Silver and Hank Jones.
Born in New York City to Jamaican immigrants, Kelly started to play professionally at the age of twelve and by sixteen had earned his first R&B hit, Hal Singer’s 1948 “Cornbread.” After working with Eddie Lockjaw Davis and Hot Lips Page, in 1951 the pianist released his first album as a leader on Blue Note Records. It’s the impossible-to-find “Piano Interpretations.”
After a two-year stint in the army, Kelly came back to the scene to play with bop masters Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Johnny Griffin and many others. He served as the consummate back-up player to greats such as Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday and released his second album as a leader in 1958 for Riverside, simply called “Piano.”
In 1959, Kelly signed with Miles Davis and became part of jazz history by playing on a selection of the record, “Kind of Blue,” which also featured Jimmy Cobb, John Coltrane, bass player Paul Chambers and Cannonball Adderley. He stayed with Davis until 1963. Simultaneously, he signed with Vee-Jay Records and released four classic albums. In addition, he served as the pianist on classic Cannonball Adderley albums such as “Cannonball Takes Charge” and Coltrane’s essential “Giant Steps” and “Coltrane Jazz.”
Once he finished with his Vee-Jay contract and split from Miles, Kelly signed to Verve. The pianist cut a total of six records for the label until 1968, when he stopped recording. Two years later, Wynton unexpectedly passed away in Toronto, where he had traveled for a gig.
Silver Platters has a rare but again totally under-priced record from Kelly, his third Verve release, which seldom surfaces anywhere. Called “Undiluted,” this record features the Miles Davis rhythm section of bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb with a few added artists on side two.
Released in 1965, the record finds Kelly at the height of his powers, playing a soulful, blues-based piano jazz. It contains such gems as “Bobo,” “My Ship,” and “Out Front.” It has the label number, F-8622, an original pressing.
Give yourself a treat, and pick up this Wynton Kelly masterpiece. Sit back and let the blues wash over you.

Dr. Dave Szatmary

Author Of

Rockin’ In Time

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Vinyl Junkie Reviews Savatage’s “Siren”

Savatage

The Vinyl Junkie

Metal heads, get ready. Silver Platters has a copy of the super rare album, “Siren,” by the rocking metal band, Savatage on BLUE VINYL! It’s on Par Records 1050 in pristine shape.
Savatage formed in the death metal capital of the world, Florida, when in 1978 two brothers Jon and Criss Oliva banded together as Avatar. Two years later, they joined with Steve “Doctor Killdrums” Wacholtz, who earned his nickname from his wild, propulsive drumming. A year later, bassist Keith Collins came into the group to make the first full Avatar line-up.
In 1983, another band with the name “Avatar” threatened to sue the foursome, so they changed their name to Savatage, a combination of the words Avatar and Savage.
In 1985 early in their career, the group signed to major-label Atlantic Records, which constantly tried to push them toward a more commercial direction. Groomed by Atlantic, the outfit achieved its pinnacle of commercial success in late 1987 with “Hall of the Mountain King,” which reached number 116 on the chart and sold nearly 350,000 copies after heavy rotation on MTV’s “Headbanger’s Ball.” The record showed the band in the beginning stages of abandoning its heavy metal roots for a more symphonic direction. By 1989, Savatage had made the switch completely with the follow-up, “Gutter Ballet.” In 1993, the band experienced another set-back when guitar wizard Criss Oliva unexpectedly passed away. To date, the group has released a total of eleven studio LPs and two live ones, fueled by the energy of Jon Oliva.
But now the good news, “Siren,” recorded in 1983, presents Savatage in an unadulterated, pure form before the hooks of Atlantic Records pulled the band from its screaming, wild version of guitar-based metal. Done by the independent Par Records, the album contains the thumping, arpeggio attack of Criss Olivia on such songs as “Holocaust” and the title cut “Siren.”
If you’ve never heard this version of undiluted Savatage, get it. You may never find it again, especially in the Par blue vinyl edition.

Dr. Dave Szatmary

Author Of

Rockin’ In Time