on 22 November 2011
Each of these albums is a must-have for anyone interested in the guitar in jazz. The earliest, "The Wes Montgomery Trio", features Wes with his Indianapolis trio, with Mel Rhyne on organ and includes one of the most beautiful recording's of Monk's 'Round Midnight, a great Satin Doll and "Yesterdays". His trademark passages in octaves and improvisations on block chords are all here.
"Montgomeryland" features Wes with his brothers, pianist Buddy and bassist Monk Montgomery, the first electric bassist in jazz. Saxophonists Harold Land and Pony Poindexter also appear. Wes' post-bop compositional skills shine through in Far Wes, Renie and Leila and there are fine versions of Summertime, Falling in Love with Love, and Old Folks.
For the "The Incredible Jazz Guitar" album he was brought to New York and placed with the seasoned rhythm section of Tommy Flanagan (piano), Percy Heath of MJQ fame on bass and his brother Albert Heath on drums. Using a guitar borrowed from Kenny Burrell, Wes rises to the occasion with great compositions such as West Coast Blues, Four on Six and Mr Walker, brilliant, swinging playing on Sonny Rollins' tricky "Airegin", Gone With The Wind (in which his solo is a classic example of motific development) and sensitive interpretations of the ballads Polka Dots and Moonbeams and Dave Brubeck's In Your Own Sweet Way. This album is at the top of my desert island list!
Finally, the collection rounds off with six well chosen tracks from his later album "Movin' Along".
Taught himself to play guitar after hearing Charlie Christian. He developed a distinctive style of playing over two registers without plectrum aids. I don't hear him as a thumb-playing plonker! Highly talented, popular and influential. Critically acclaimed as "extraordinarily spectacular" (Gunther Schuller) whilst others declared his influences from and on Christian, Charlie Parker, Mingus, and Coltrane. Encouraged by Cannonball Adderley.
The 2CD collection by AVID portrays Wes Montgomery in different settings, all excellent.
MONTGOMERYLAND, WES MONTGOMERY TRIO, INCREDIBLE JAZZ GUITAR OF WES MONTGOMERY,MOVIN'ALONG are represented by almost 3 hours of music.
The guitarist is the lynch-pin of proceedings but credit to his brothers (Buddy on piano and Monk on bass). The addition of Harold Land on tenor sax adds variety to numbers such as 'Leila' and 'Far Wes'. Tommy Flanagan adds his customary licks to 'D-Natural Blues' and 'West Coast Blues' notwithstanding Victor Feldman (piano) on 'Body and Soul','So Do It'. Wes Mongomery is at ease and fluency on the 'Incredible' album. The aforementioned 'West Coast Blues', 'D-Natural Blues' plus 'Polka Dots And Moonbeams' showcase his artistry and skill. 'Round Midnight' with Melvin Rhyne on organ is outstanding as is 'Four On Six' with Percy and Albert Heath booting along.
Take this collection as a man at his creative powers that unfortunately were foreshortened by his death (aged 43 years). Another bargain for any collector of music.
on 5 August 2011
Most unexpedctedly I find I can only give this compilation 4 stars - not least because it is truly astounding value for money and Wes is undoubtedly a guitarist of the first order. Way back in the sixties when we first heard his muted playing it sounded amazing and the tracks here pairing guitar and organ are inspired and excellent. I've had these CDs a week now and much to my surprise - especially since I got them to study phrasing and technique to brush up my own playing with the acquisition of an old Antoria jazz box - I find much of the material sounding tired and predictable. The superfast octaves are at first impressive but as each track follows pretty much the same thematic development they become irritatingly manic to the point where I can no longer bear to play them... for a while anyway.
So, alas, only four stars because of the unrelenting thumb plonking - original, clever and often witty, yes... in small doses. So today, as an antidote, I have ordered the classic Jim Hall album Concierto to sooth my ragged nerves.
on 25 June 2013
This is good value for money, as you do get two cd's that encompass three albums of Montgomery's music, and the bonus of his brothers also working on them. That Wes could not really read music, and learned, and ultimately was, a remarkable 'ear' musician that even contemporary guitarist stars like Ritenour regard him as exemplary and inspirational tells you a lot about West Montgomery. The only reason I haven't given a full 5 stars is the recording levels are not completely top-hole for all the tracks, and since Wes played in a kind of naturally muffled fashion using a calloused thumb, the individual notes are not super-sharp to the ear, but they are, of course there. I featured tracks from the album on my show, though, and everything played was satisfactory as transcribed. A jazz collection isn't complete without this man and his also accomplished brothers doing what they did best.