Wes Montgomery: Blue 'n' Boogie


Blue 'n' Boogie


Wes Montgomery (guitar)


Full House (Riverside 30129)

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Wes Montgomery (guitar), Johnny Griffin (tenor sax), Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums).

Composed by Dizzy Gillespie


Recorded: live at Tsubo, Berkeley, CA, June 25, 1962


Rating: 99/100 (learn more)

Wes Montgomery's Smokin' at the Half Note has always seemed to overshadow the similarly live Full House from three years earlier, perhaps because Smokin' was so superior to the rest of the guitarist's generally more commercial output for Verve. Full House, however, had the same state-of-the-art rhythm section, plus the added advantage of a fiery, at-the-top-of-his-game Johnny Griffin, so it compares quite favorably to the later Verve session. Full House was recorded on a Monday night at a packed and overflowing coffee house in Berkeley, when Kelly, Chambers, and Cobb had the day free from their regular gig backing Miles Davis in nearby San Francisco, and Montgomery and Griffin were in town and available as well. The overused phrase "in the groove" never applied more aptly than to the music these five consummate musicians created that evening.

"Blue 'n' Boogie" is a case in point. Play this track for someone who thinks jazz is too boring, intellectual, and distant, and then contact a funeral home if the detractor has not been reborn and revitalized. The pace is relentless from the start, as Wes and Griff essay Dizzy's riffing theme. Wes solos first, introducing his full arsenal, from fleet extended runs to ringing held notes, not to mention those irresistible unison octaves and block chords, all enhanced by the unique sound he engenders with his thumb-picking technique. Kelly follows with a contrastingly light, dancing touch, and when Cobb offers his always stimulating rim-shot accents, the pianist simply soars. Griffin then amazingly tops both his predecessors, with an exhilarating solo containing bluesy riffs and boppish twists and turns played with his inviting vocalized sound. His swooping lines, cries and wails, and inventive call-&-response patterns bring the audience to a frenzy. Cobb next exchanges alternately with Griff and Wes, before the drummer engages just Kelly in the same heated manner. Cobb has never played better on record than on this and other Full House tracks. His own brief yet rousing solo prior to the reprise is still further proof of that.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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