Wes Montgomery: Unit 7
Wes Montgomery (guitar)
Smokin' at the Half Note (Verve 829578-2)
Composed by Sam Jones.
Recorded: live at the Half Note, New York, June 1965
Rating: 99/100 (learn more)
Recently released as part of the Jazz Icons film series is a video of three Wes Montgomery concerts in Europe in 1965. In it, the close-up camera focuses on his unorthodox thumb-picking technique, an invaluable glimpse for students and admirers. Those who never saw him play in person wish they had been at those concerts, or perhaps at the Half Note in New York City that same year, when this track was recorded with the rhythm section that best complemented him during the 1960s. Montgomery's solo begins with inventive, careening single-note lines, followed by a section emphasizing his always highly skilled use of octaves, before concluding with an energizing display of his trademark block chords. The use of his thumb and the resultant thick, resonant sound, as well as his imaginative rhythmic variations, are the icing on the cake. Kelly, Chambers and Cobb as usual create a perfectly buoyant backdrop.
Reviewer: Scott Albin