Wynton Kelly’s Ballad Comping

I was just listening to “Old Folks” from Miles Davis’ Someday My Prince Will Come with Wynton Kelly on piano. What a great inspiration and model for us in our comping on ballads. Wynton does so many little things so well on this track: voicing, rhythmic movement, sound, dynamics, subtle responsive melodic ideas, but mainly just beautiful accompaniment. Let’s remember that comping, especially on ballads is first and foremost ACCOMPANYING.

Wynton’s playing is stellar on this entire track, but here’s a few of my favorite moments to note:

0:08- 0:10 subtle & simple melodic line in between Miles phrases

1:11–1:15 beautiful block chord melodic interlude

1:31–1:32 two simple octaves, perfectly placed and played with just the right touch

1:48–1:52 while Miles is down low, Wynton counters by pushing up melodically beautifully here

1:58–2:02 four well-voiced voicings simply played

2:37 staccato chord timed right with miles accent

2:38–3:38 check out Wynton’s supportive comping behind tenor solo. His wide use of range, space and rhythm perfectly compliments this solo.

3:38 Wynton actually starts his solo a little early, overlapping Hank Mobley's end of solo, but it works because of the range and melodic ideas he using

4:18–4:32 I love this simple rhythm comping style, all half notes and whole notes, but fantastic voicing and voice leading

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