It’s unfair to blame Wes Montgomery for the soulless work of those who claim him as an influence; his trademark octave runs became a cash cow for the smooth jazz associated with the piped-in music of doctor’s offices and grocery stores. In reality, Montgomery was a much sought-after player by many; even Coltrane played with him for a time. Montgomery gives the impression that playing the guitar requires no less concentration than tying your shoes, fashioning a style admired (and imitated) by many. Milt Jackson, an amateur guitarist himself, reportedly leapt at the chance to play with him on this outing. Jackson seems to enjoy escaping the restrictive confines of the systematic Modern Jazz Quartet for some hard bop workouts, and the rhythm section is filled with perfect choices to achieve this goal. Nothing is taken at a tempo that would quicken the pulse, yet the metallic chime of the vibes is a perfect foil for the snap of Montgomery’s guitar. It’s surprising, given the title of the album, that the leaders are so generous with the spotlight, giving the rhythm section ample solo space; it would have been nice to hear Montgomery and Jackson really have a go at each other on some of the more spirited numbers. Nevertheless, they turn in a finer version of “Delilah” than Brown and Roach did, and “Stairway to the Stars” is simply beautiful. It’s not surprising that the mutual admiration provide an outing that is such a great listen.
Track Listing: S.K.J., Stablemates, Stairway to the Stars, Blue Roz, Sam Sack, Jingles, Delilah, Stairway to the Stars (take 2), Jingles (take 8), Delilah (take 3).
Personnel: Milt Jackson-vibes; Wes Montgomery-guitar; Wynton Kelly-piano; Sam Jones-bass; Philly Joe Jones-drums.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.