I should preface this by emphasizing that this is not the same "Body & Soul" CD that was reviewed by Adrian Ingram in the Novermber '96 Just Jazz Guitar magazine. This is a reissue of tracks and alternate takes from "Movin Along", "Grooveyard" and "Bags Meets Wes", reissued in the the 12-CD boxed set in 1992. This disc is a must-buy for Wes historians, as there are tacks here that are heard nowhere else (unless you want to shell out $175 for the aforementioned release). Sidemen include James Clay on flute and tenor, Milt Jackson and Buddy Montgomery on vibes, Wynton Kelly, Buddy Montgomery and Victor Feldman on piano, Monk Montgomery and Sam Jones on bass and Bobby Thomas, Philly Joe Jones and Louis Hayes on drums. Quite a lineup.
This is the kind of playing you hear on "Incredible Jazz Guitar"; the thinner, edgy sound that first put Wes on the map. His lines were in top form, yet you can hear a relative newness in his sound compared to the more mature performances on "Boss Guitar" or "Smokin' at the Half Note".
The title track features Wes on a "bass guitar", actually a 6 string instrument tuned an octave lower than a guitar. I'm just glad he only played it on one tune. HIs playing was great, it was just annoying to have to hear such an instrument. He switches to his Gibson L5 for the remainder of the tunes, delivering a tremendous performance. His octave treatment on "Movin' Along" is brilliant, yet he scrapped the take because he didn't like his solo! Next, two alternate takes of "Doujie" (the original was part of the "Grooveyard" album). Instead of octaves, Wes uses single notes in both solos, providing a textbook example of how to solo over "Confirmation" changes. The second version features Buddy on vibes.
Another highlight is their reading of the Benny Golson tune "Stablemates". These changes are not easy to navigate, but Wes pulls it off with lots of grace and swing. It's always fun for me to hear Wes with Milt Jackson, and I wonder what the Modern Jazz Quartet would have sounded like had Wes been a part.
As there are outtakes here, you will hear technical glitches and bad edits now and again. For me that only adds to the "live" experience of hearing these great players at work in the studio. This is a fun musical journey and absolute required material for Wes researchers or serious students who can't afford the hefty investment for the box set. Pick this one up!