by Steve Pick
Nowadays, you can't be a proper fan of jazz guitar without acknowledging the supremacy of Grant Green's work in the early 1960s. If, however, you were listening to jazz in the early 1960s, you were much more likely to be raving about the great Wes Montgomery.
Listen to this album, and you'll understand why. Montgomery would go on just a year or two after these 1965 live dates to record some lite jazz pablum that helped create a space for the Kenny G's of this world. But, for the first half of the 60s, he was a masterful improviser. Check out what he does with Miles Davis' "No Blues" here, or even more radically, where he takes the ballad "What's New." Montgomery wasn't flashy, looking for the cheap thrills. Instead, he just dug into the chords and melodies on hand, and found new insights into their cores.
And, hey, Wynton Kelly was no slouch, either. This guy may be the single most under-lauded pianist of the post bop era (unless Red Garland beat him on that score, as they were both astounding and are equally rarely mentioned today). Man, it's just light-fingered dancing melodies from start to finish with this guy.
Add in fellow Miles alumni Paul Chambers on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums, and you've got a damn near perfect record. Heck, apparently Pat Metheny says it is a perfect jazz guitar record, and who am I to argue with him?
Of course, you can buy this album, with bonus cuts, directly from our website or in our store at 601 E. Lockwood in Webster Groves.
Here's a vid of Wes (without Wynton) from 1965.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
by Steve Pick