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Verve Jazz Masters, Vol. 14: Wes Montgomery

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Album Review

Shedding the temptation of bop purist revisionism that creeps into most assessments of Wes Montgomery, this Verve Jazz Masters volume gives newcomers a good cross-section of his Verve recordings: the orchestral Wes along with the small-group Wes. The sequencing, though out of chronological order, is quite clever and musical. Someone who has never heard Montgomery before will be drawn in most enticingly with his brief yet unforgettably catchy hit with Oliver Nelson, "Goin' Out of My Head." That is followed by the burnin' "Impressions" with the Wynton Kelly Trio live at the Half Note, which in turn gives way to a luscious Bumpin' outtake with strings, "My One and Only Love" and the Latin-grooving "Tequila," and the sequence rolls on smoothly and with considerable diversity from there. There are omissions — nothing from the two albums with Jimmy Smith, nothing from the A&M catalog (which Verve's parent corporation, PolyGram, owns and could have easily drawn from). But one can still get an idea of how Montgomery's awesome technical facilities and magical melodic touch dazzled the musicians and wooed the general public of his time. If you don't watch yourself, buying this CD might lead to a full-blown Wes Montgomery addiction. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Biography

Born: 06 March 1923 in Indianapolis, IN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s

Wes Montgomery was one of the great jazz guitarists, a natural extension of Charlie Christian, whose appealing use of octaves became influential and his trademark. He achieved great commercial success during his last few years, only to die prematurely. It had taken Wes a long time to become an overnight success. He started to teach himself guitar in 1943 (using his thumb rather than a pick) and toured with Lionel Hampton during 1948-1950; he can be heard on a few broadcasts from the period. But...
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