Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery

Very Best of Wes Montgomery

Riverside /Concord Music Group

I suspect you can never have too much cool jazz, and Riverside is here to help. They’ve just popped out a series of “Very Best” collections from some of the greats, and today we’ll look at Wes Montgomery. Montgomery had a tragically short career; he only played and recorded for a bit over a decade, but influenced most of the subsequent jazz guitar heroes like Pat Metheny, George Benson, and even Jimi Hendrix. Unlike so many other early departures, he avoided drugs and fast living only to exit via heart attack, leaving behind over two dozen albums. Thus, Riverside’s problem is one of excess, and not lack of material.

There’s quite a spread in jazz, and Montgomery is one of the more melodic of the composers. He’s certainly no hook and chorus guy, but “West Coast Blues” and “Four on Six” lope along with Montgomery’s six-string setting a counterpoint melody to syncopated drum and brushes. Occasionally a piano pops in to say “hello,” but the point man here is Montgomery. The standard “Besame Mucho” is almost unrecognizable; it’s not that he’s lost the melody, but he’s just fragmented it, with bits and pieces catching at your left ear and making you right ear whisper “wait… no… that’s um… play it again please? I missed it!”

By the end of the album, we’re into a more structured composition. “Cariba” almost makes you dance, and that’s not something Montgomery or his contemporaries are known for. They’ll make you think, but mass appeal dancing to jazz lay in the future with choreographers like Bob Fosse. There’s a live audience patiently sitting and listening to Montgomery jam, and unlike rock audiences, these folks are quiet and contained, only bursting in to golf-course-quiet applause after a particularly innovative riff. Jazz is a study, repaying repeated listening and discussion with deeper insight and growing appreciation. You just need to collect the whole set.

Concord Music Group: www.concordmusicgroup.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Bully
    Bully

    Bully greets Orlando with apathy and anger toward one of its theme parks. Jen Cray smiles and thinks, “Man, this band would have fit in well in the nineties!”

  • Luther Dickinson
    Luther Dickinson

    Blues & Ballads: A Folksinger’s Songbook: Volumes I & II (New West Records). Review by James Mann.

  • Conway
    Conway

    Big Talk EP (Self-Released). Review by Jen Cray.

  • Freakwater
    Freakwater

    Scheherazade (Bloodshot Records). Review by James Mann.

  • The Haymarket Squares
    The Haymarket Squares

    Light It Up. Review by Carl F Gauze.

  • Ani DiFranco
    Ani DiFranco

    Years pass, and so do our legends, but one constant remains: there are always artists living and breathing that are worth your time and attention. Ani DiFranco is a major one, according to Jen Cray and a whole legion of fans.

  • Javier Escovedo
    Javier Escovedo

    Kicked Out Of Eden (Saustex Media). Review by James Mann.

  • Eszter Balint
    Eszter Balint

    Airless Midnight (Red Herring). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Arthur Lee and Love
    Arthur Lee and Love

    Real to Reel (High Moon Records). Review by Al Pergande.

  • The Rentiers
    The Rentiers

    Here is a List of Things That Exist EP / Black Metal Yoga 7″ (Square of Opposition Records/Death to False Hope Records). Review by Jen Cray.

From the Archives