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Compact Jazz: Wes Montgomery Plays the Blues

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Album Review

While many jazz purists have lambasted Montgomery and Verve for the crossover success the guitarist achieved during the latter half of the '60s, the sides themselves are actually quite good. Sure, Montgomery did concede the occasional pop cover ("California Dreaming"), but he always played his best, regardless. And then there are the many fine arrangements by Oliver Nelson, Claus Ogerman ("Bumpin' on Sunset"), Johnny Pate ("Movin' Wes, Pts. 1 & 2"), and Don Sebesky. Yes, several of them included strings, but they generally were tastefully arranged. And those crossover sounds people complain about? Well, they actually are some finely wrought soul-jazz grooves with a smattering of uptown touches. After you've done your homework with all those classic early-'60s Riverside dates by Montgomery, put your dancing shoes on and check out this high-end party soundtrack or the even better Montgomery edition of the Talkin' Verve series.


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 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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Compact Jazz: Wes Montgomery Plays the Blues, Wes Montgomery
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