The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (Eac, Flac single track, Cue)
[The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery was reissued in a Super Audio Compact Disc remastered version in 2003.]
Wes Montgomery (guitar)
Tommy Flanagan (piano)
Percy Heath (bass)
Albert "Tootie" Heath (drums)
02 D-Natural Blues
03 Polka Dots and Moonbeams
04 Four on Six
05 West Coast Blues
06 In Your Own Sweet Way
07 Mr. Walker (Renie)
08 Gone with the Wind
As the very useful liner notes to this release point out, this 1960 recording was a bit of a coming-out party for Montgomery, arguably the best and most influential jazz guitarist of the last half century. The title is not hyperbole; the guitar playing here is indeed incredible, although Wes sets aside mere flash for meaningful swing.
The guitarist benefits from a crack band behind him: Al and Percy Heath on drums and bass, respectively, and the flawless Tommy Flanagan on piano. Flanagan had shortly before this date contributed mightily to Coltrane's "Giant Steps," and his ability to seamlessly slip in behind Montgomery on a date that couldn't be more different than Coltrane's is testimony to his taste and his chops.
Wes's startling chording will be a revelation to those who haven't heard him before, but even if you've listened to him a lot you'll still find his work on, for example, "Four on Six" and "West Coast Blues" immensely satisfying. On both these cuts, he flows endlessly between chords and octaves, creating a smooth river of sound. Beautiful.
Also of note is his treatment of "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," a chestnut that Wes turns into a lovely romance that sounds new and fresh. This is a great CD for the jazz guitar lover, who will realize immediately that it doesn't get much better than this.
John "Wes" Montgomery taught himself to play at the age of nineteen and created a style as influential to jazz guitar as was Charlie Christian's to an ... Full Descriptionearlier generation. Recorded in the early part of his solo career, THE INCREDIBLE JAZZ GUITAR OF WES MONTGOMERY defined standards for hard bop guitar which are as cogent today as they were in 1960.
The album jumps out with the quartet hustling through Sonny Rollins' "Airegin," where Wes performs his often imitated licks with grace and agility. His extended phrases, thematic development, harmonic and melodic embellishment come together in a formidable technique with a heavy swing. An impressive use of octaves and chords coupled with the rejection of a guitar pick in favor of his own thumb allowed Wes' guitar to sing with warmth and with beauty. The lyrical rendition of "Polka Dots And Moonbeams" and his own "D-Natural Blues" are prime examples of the fullness of his lines. To this day, whenever a guitarist uses octaves he runs the risk of comparison to Wes, such was his mastery of this technique. Another aspect of his legacy is the compositions. Since their appearance on this album, "Four On Six" and "West Coast Blues" have become standard jazz repertoire. Yet to remain in awe merely of his approach is to miss the point of what he has to say. Montgomery's technique served only to express the emotions and inspirations born from the depths of his soul. From the strings of his guitar, through all the amplifiers, tapes and speakers, what shines through is Wes' heart and a style without which there wouldn't be players like Pat Martino, Kevin Eubanks and Mark Whitfield today.
Down Beat (1960) - 5 Stars - Excellent - "...Montgomery is one of the most completely satisfying jazz musicians....To produce easy-listening music with meaning is a high accomplishment....Strongly recommended..."