Wes Montgomery was not only an unfail-ingly inventive improviser but also an artist who was usually dissatisfied with his own work. The combination led to his repeating his recorded performances after another player would have been quite willing to consider the job well done. These two by-passed takes are among a large number of supposed rejects from various sessions that I eventually com-bined on a double-album entitled “The Alter-native Wes Montgomery” (Milestone M-47065). This Compact Disc, however, marks the first time they have appeared in combination with the originally-issued results of this powerful day’s work.
1 – Movin’Along
(Wes Montgomery) Taggie Music Co. /
Orpheum Music-BMI 5:40
2 – Tune-Up
(Miles Davis) Prestige Music-BMI 4:27
*3. Tune-Up (Take 9)
(Davis) Prestige-BMI 4:39
4 – I Don’t Stand a Ghostof a Chance with You
(Crosby-Washington-Young) Mills Music,
Inc./Víctor Young Publ., Inc.-ASCAP 5:02
5 – Sandu
(Clifford Brown) Slow Dancing Music-BMI 3:23
6 – BodyandSoul (Heyman-Sour-Eyton-Green) Warner Bros. Music-ASCAP 7:19
*7. Body and Soul (Take 2)
(Heyman-Sour-Eyton-Green) Warner Bros.-ASCAP 11:17
8 – SoDolt!
(Montgomery) Taggie/Orpheum-BMI 6:05
9 – Says You
(Sam Jones) Orpheum-BMI 4:59
*Additional track(s) not on original LP release.
WES MONTGOMERY, guitar; and bass guitar (on selections #2, 4, 6, and 7)
JAMES CLAY, ilute; and tenor sax (on #8)
VICTOR FELDMAN, piano
SAM JONES, bass LOUIS HAYES, drums (Clay is not on #4 and 9)
Los Angeles; October 12,1960
Mastering—Joe Tarantino (Fantasy Studios, Berkeley)
Riverside Records Tenth and Parker Berkeley, CA 94710 ® & © 1988, Fantasy, Inc.
Of all the many and varied excitements of jazz, surely none is more dramatic and stimulating than one of those tare occasions when a new star of major im-portance suddenly bursts through, apparently from no-where, to full-scale recognition.In the even rarer instances when such a newcomer also offers a startlingly different and revitalizing approach to his instrument, the impact is of course all the greater. Such is the case with the lightning-swift emergence of WES MONTGOMERY.
Like most such sudden meteors, Wes has actually been playing for a long time. Now in his mid-thirties, he has been developing his highly personal style for more than a decade. But choice and family responsibili-t:es (including six children) had kept him cióse to his home town of Indianapolis. As recently as the Fall of 1959 his ñame was still known only to a very few— mostly jazz-listening residents of that city and musicians who had passed through. Then one such traveller,
Cannonball Adderley, hearing Wes for the first time, insistentiy brought him to the attention of Riverside. Before 1960 was done, Montgomery was established as a ‘ñame” artist, which (as the title of this LP suggests) is pretty fast Movin Along.
This phenomenal and drastically original guitarist has had an immediate and remarkable effect on all who have heard him. By late 1960 it was already oíd and accepted news that the normally restrained Ralph J. Gleason had bluntly Iabelled him as “the best thing to happen to the guitar since Charlie Christian.” And the list of honors heaped on Wes can hardly have been equalled by any other first-year man. In Down Beat’s critics poli, he walked off with the “New Star” award on his instrument. A Billboard poli designated him “most promising instrumentalist” of the year. Metronomc’s readers voted him first among guitarists, and in the Down Beat readers’ balloting he ranked second only to the long-time poll-winning Barney Kessel.
A New York Times review by critic John S. Wilson aptly pinpoints the approach by which Montgomery produces his consistentíy ‘impossible* guitar music. Not-ing that the legacy of the great pioneer modernist Charlie Christian has been so overwhelming that jazz guitar since the early ’40s has “almost invariably been a diluted reflection of his playing,” Wilson points out that with the appearance of Montgomery on the sccne this is no longcr universally true. Wes “uses only his thumh as a plectrum, mixing chords and remarkably rapid sineIe-no»e lines, … so his playing does not have the looping flow that has been common since Christian. Instead it has a fierce jabbing intensity that has much in common with the attack of such present-day saxo-phonists as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. . . . By this means he has changed the guitar from an instrument producing a relatively delicate sound . . . to a remarkably strong, full-throated ensemble and solo voice.”
The object of all this excitement can be heard in full stride on this álbum, backed by a formidable and flaw-lessly tight-knit trio—Vic Feldman, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes—that is quickly identifiable as Cannonball’s rhythm section. Fortúnate coincidence had a hand in teaming them with the guitarist. Wes was in San Francisco, preparing with his brothers Monk and Buddy for the launching of a Montgomery Brothers group. He had his material ready nnd was eager to record; the Adderley sidemen had a few free days between engage-raents in Los Angeles; this writer, in L.A. to cut a group of albums, brought the four together. For furthei
fire and instrumental color, James Clay, a vastly promising young Texas-born ilute and tenor man, was added —and his rich Ilute sound blends particularly effectively with tlie deep, warm tones of the bass guitar Wes uses on Rody and Soul, Miles Davis’ Tune-Up, and Clifford Brown’s Sandu. The latter tune also serves to showease the twin “bottom” sounds of the bass guitar and Sam Jones’ wonderfully sturdy bass.
The title tune, a soulful blucs linc with a compelling lift to it, offers a particularly mood-creating Montgomery solo. Ghost of a Chance (the full title of which is actually I Dont Stand a Ghost of a Chance with You) is a sensi-tive bailad exploration of a too-seldom played standard: So Do It! is another earthy Montgomery original; and the álbum goes out swinging with Sam Jones’ rollicking. boppish Says You.
Even though the swift and overwhelming acceptance of Wes Montgomery derived largely from strong re-actions to his first two Riverside recordings, some who had heard him in person felt that Wes had not yet been caught at his best on records. Actually, Montgomery is a ‘blo.wing’ jazzman in the best sense of the word: thoroughly modern in approach, he is nevertheless in some respeets a thrówback to the earlier jam-session type of musician who delights in playing all night long. (When we first heard him in Indianapolis he was doing just that, following his regular job with a stint at a ’til-dawn after-hours club!) The breathtaking extreme-best efforts of such a musically uninhibited free spirit may possibly never be totally captured in the recording studio. But this third álbum stríkes us as his most im-pressive studio work to date. On this particular night he was in a mood to display (in addition to his ever-present lyrícism and soul) a great deal of well-merited assurance and driving musical aggressiveness. Fullv relaxed and playing in very good company indeed, Wes surely carne cióse enough to peak performance to more than satisfy anyone.
Louis Hayes appears through the courtesy of Vee-Jay Records.
Produeed and notes written by ORRIN KEEPNEWS. Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF. Cover photo graphs by WILLIAM CLAXTON. Recording Engineer: WALL Y HEIDER (United Recording Studios).
These liner notes appeared on the original analog release and thus reflect the critical altitudes and technical realities of that time.
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