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Smokin' at the Half Note

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Editors’ Notes

Backed by the musicians Miles Davis used for Kind of Blue — pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb — Montgomery is the epitome of calm. No note is strained, no phrase misplaced. Whether the guitarist is riding the slow burn of “What’s New” or the tumultuous changes of “Unit 7,” he never falters, always sure to savor every note, for himself, and for the listener. His solos fill the spectrum, from single note melodies to lush chords, while highlighting Montgomery’s signature octave playing. Pat Metheny has called the solo on “If You Could See Me Now” “the greatest ever played, including anything by Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson or anybody else.” There is a magic air about that performance, which, along with “No Blues” was the only song from the original program recorded at the Half Note. While the remainder of the original album was recorded at Rudy Van Gelder’s studio in New Jersey, the 2005 expanded edition of the album includes the rest of the songs from the group’s brilliant June 1965 appearance at the famed New York nightspot.


Born: March 6, 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...
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