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Wes Montgomery: Full House

C. Michael Bailey By

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Wes Montgomery's recording of his June 25, 1962 live performance at the Tsubo Jazz Club in Berkeley, California intersects significantly with two recent Resonance releases. One intersection involves the Wynton Kelly trio, comprised of pianist Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb. It was with this same trio that Montgomery would record his essential Wynton Kelly Trio with Wes Montgomery: Smokin' at the Half Note (Verve, 1965) and then, later, be captured with on Smokin' in Seattle: Live At the Penthouse 1966 (Resonance, 2017). The second intersection involves the presence of tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, performed with Montgomery at Tsubo and later on In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording (Resonance, 2018). These intersections justify a re-assessment of Full House, which has not previously been addressed at All About Jazz.

Montgomery had already established himself on the jazz map in 1960, with The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (Riverside). He would proceed to record five more albums as a leader before waxing his fist live recording at Berkeley's Tsubo Jazz Club. Not unlike organist Jimmy Smith, when Montgomery began recording, he did so a fully-formed artist, appearing as if from nowhere. Montgomery was an autodidact who would not read music. His ear was note perfect and his illiteracy with scores was in no way an impediment to his playing. He proved that he could play anything with anybody.

That fact is made abundantly clear on Full House where Montgomery's repertoire included ballads ("Come Rain or Come Shine," "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face), bebop ("Blue 'N Boogie"), had bop ("Full House"), and Latin jazz ("Cariba"). The title song would go on to become a centerpiece to Montgomery's live performances. Montgomery seems never to have played anything lacking his inate mirth and happiness. In that he had an amiable Midas Touch that made his performances uplifting and immediately identifiable. Montgomery had a tangible simpatico with Kelly, both being superb blues and ballads players. When unison playing, the two are of one mind, that of swing and propulsion. Griffin's presence adds a woody organicness that is both fecund and free. Occurring about a third of the way through Montgomery's 10-year recording career, Full House was a glimpse of what was to come and be lost all too soon.

Track Listing: (2007 Reissue): Full House; I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face; Blue ‘N Boogie; Cariba (Take 2); Come Rain of Come Shine (Take 2); S.O.S (Take 3); Cariba; Come Rain or Come Shine; SOS; Born to be Blue; Born to be Blue (Alternate Take).

Personnel: Wes Montgomery: guitar; Wynton Kelly: piano; Paul Chambers: bass; Jimmy Cobb: drums; Johnny Griffin: tenor saxophone.

Title: Full House | Year Released: 1962 | Record Label: Riverside

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