Wes Montgomery: Con Alma
Wes Montgomery (guitar)
Bumpin' (Verve V6 8625)
Helcio Millito (drums), Arnold Eidus, Lewis Eley, Paul Gershman, Louis Haber, Julius Held, Harry Lookofsky, Jos Malignaggi, Gene Orloff, Sol Shapiro (violins), Harold Coletta, Dave Schwartz (violas) Charles McCracken, George Ricci (cello), Margaret Ross (harp), Don Sebesky (arranger, conductor).
Composed by Dizzie Gillespie.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, May 19th, 1965
Rating: 86/100 (learn more)
The 1960s were an interesting time for the godfather of modern jazz guitar. After signing with Verve Records, Wes Montgomery went on a kick where he recorded heavily with orchestral backgrounds. Even though I love this Dizzy Gillespie song, it's still kind of strange to hear it with all of the string textures but I still enjoy it. While some of Montgomery's other recordings utilized a big band, "Con Alma" receives the Hollywood treatment, with mixed results, depending on your ears. I like it but others might find the strings to be overkill.
While the symphonic nature of this track is questionable to some, the rawness of Montgomery's solo isn't really up for debate. Wes moves back and forth with the grace of a heavyweight fighter as he runs circles around the harmonic modulations. The rhythm section is very laid back on this track and the sound of the band is further augmented by the hand percussion, which gives the song just enough spice to still feel like a genuine cover of a Latin song. This is by no means the best cover that Wes Montgomery ever performed but within this arrangement he does a good job in bringing out the original ideas of the composition.
Reviewer: Jared Pauley