top of page

Zwee Dot: How Kelly Sill Listens to Music – Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance”

by Kelly Sill

In this month’s “Zwee Dot” Kelly Sill shares his listening notes for pianist Ben Paterson’s solo version of the Herbie Hancock classic, “Dolphin Dance,” from his 2012 Meetinghouse release, Blues for Oscar.

Click here to check out the January 2020 Chicago Jazz Magazine feature interview with Ben!

“Dolphin Dance”

From the recording

Blues for Oscar

2012, Meetinghouse Records

Ben Paterson – Piano

0:03 And the cut starts—one of my favorite tunes

0:08 He begins with stride piano, after the four-bar intro

0:15 Very delicate

0:21 Really nice!

0:29 Now he opens it up with triplets amid sparseness

0:34 Quite sparse

0:43 Back to stride

0:52 Almost stark

1:02 Now open again

1:10 The intro into a triplet run

1:16 And 16th notes back into triplets

1:20 It feels good

1:27 Another flurry into something heavier

1:35 Sparseness alternated with busyness—it works well

1:43 And stride alternated with non-stride

1:56 Triplets into a flurry

2:03 That’s very playful

2:25 Yow! 20 seconds of a barrage of doubletime walking bass with 16th notes on top

2:29 Now he’s landed back on earth

2:40 Heading into what I call the punchline with more stride

2:51 Very peaceful

2:59 Cool; he’s vamping

3:06 Alternating between two chords

3:11 Rubato now

3:16 And it ends—another great cut!


Kelly Sill has been a mainstay of the Chicago jazz scene for more than 45 years. After receiving his bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he moved to Chicago. 

He has since performed and recorded with a vast array of jazz artists, including Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, Art Farmer, Eddie Jefferson, Clark Terry, Cedar Walton, Herb Ellis, Woody Shaw, Hank Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessel, Chris Potter, Ernie Watts, Bob Mintzer, Mel Torme, Anita O'Day, Janice Borla, Jack Mouse, Jackie McLean, Joey DeFrancesco, Donald Byrd, Bobby Watson, Eddie Harris, Scott Hamilton, Victor Lewis, Clifford Jordan, Bucky Pizzarelli, and many more. 

He has performed at the Chicago Jazz Festival, Ravinia Festival, the Elkhart Jazz Festival, the Red Sea Jazz Festival, the Thessaloniki Concert Hall in Greece, and Symphony Center (Orchestra Hall) in Chicago.

Kelly has served on the faculties of Northwestern University, Interlochen Arts Academy, Northeastern Illinois University, Lake Forest College, DePaul University, and Northern Illinois University. He currently teaches at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. For questions or comments please contact him at or visit his website at

bottom of page