Riverside's recordings often get over-looked in comparison with Blue Note and this is one of those recordings made for the former which would have been regarded as an instant classic had it been issued by the latter.
It is strange to look back at the recorded output of Wes Montgomery since what was sensational in 1961 maybe doesn't sound so radical over fifty years later. I also find that his later efforts are marred by commercial pressures and therefore the Riverside material is the essential repertoire in the eyes of most collectors. This effort doesn't break any boundaries and may even be considered quite conservative in respect of how jazz was beginning to shape up in 1961 but the no thrills approach to this session very much adds to the appeal. The repertoire consisrs of a handful of 12 bar blues and two standards. The standout track is Benny Golson's excellent "Stablemates, itself very much a jazz staple.
On the face of things, this could therefore be construed to be a run-of-the mill session typical of the era - all very agreeable but not exactly essential. However, the reality if that the band Montgomery assembled is as near perfect as you could expect. Steeped in the blues, I have always preferred to hear Milt Jackson outside the polite confines of the MJQ and here is shows himself to be the perfect foil to the guitarist. This is a partnership that fits hand in glove and would normally be sufficient to recommend the disc alone. The icing on the cake is the rhythm section of Wynton Kelly, Sam Jones and Philly Joe Jones. All three can be seen as potential ingredients for an idealised line-up for this era and I personally feel that having Wynton Kelly on piano makes any record worthwhile having. There is a snap and crispness about this band which offers the perfect contrast to the smoother sounds of Montgomery's guitar.
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