Wes Montgomery: The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery – Keepnews Collection

It’s all too easy to forget what someone like Wes Montgomery meant to the guitar itself, and not just jazz guitar specifically. Concord’s Keepnews Collection, spotlighting milestones in the career of jazz producer Orrin Keepnews with 24-bit remastered sound and new liner notes from Keepnews himself, slips out a reminder with the series’ entry for The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery. Traditionally cited as Montgomery’s best studio album, it’s easy to hear why. Unlike his later recordings for Verve and A&M, which were often bloated by strings and other extraneous elements for a more pop-friendly sound, this landmark 1960 session finds Montgomery backed by a crack rhythm section – pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Percy Heath and drummer Albert Heath – and nothing more. The quartet storms through six originals and two standards, and Montgomery’s trademark flying octaves are all over the place. His leads always sound effortless and simple, but just try playing them yourself with the style and grace with which Montgomery applies. He was one of a kind, and an inspiration to countless jazz guitarists for reasons that Incredible Jazz Guitar articulates clearly, succinctly and enjoyably. (Riverside/Concord 2008)


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