Wes Montgomery: Full House

I can't think of many jazz tunes in 3/4 that groove as hard as Wes Montgomery's "Full House." Recorded live in California, this date boasts a powerful line-up, with tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin adding some nice spice to the mix. Montgomery regularly recorded with the rhythm section of Kelly, Chambers and Cobb and as usual, the captured sound is some of the best straight ahead jazz to come out of the 1960s. Montgomery's solo is lively, full of octaves and steady movement. When Griffin takes his solo, he combines upper register notes with rapid mid-register runs, enticing the listener for more. Griffin was a top notch soloist, hands down.

Wynton Kelly swings and brings everything home with his blues filled piano lines. He also variates his rhythms just enough to get the listener interested in every note he is going to play. He also adds some chordal strikes during his solo, not something he usually did with Montgomery. This is a solid example of the swing factor. Montgomery and company get straight As on this one! Check out the nice little Bossa nova turn around at the end.

September 16, 2009 · 0 comments

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Wes Montgomery: Con Alma

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.

September 16, 2009 · 0 comments

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