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Wes Montgomery: Groove Brothers

Douglas Payne By

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Groove Brothers presents two of the few occasions guitarist Wes Montgomery (1925-68) was recorded with his brothers, pianist/vibraphonist Buddy (born 1930) and bassist Monk (1921-82). And it's a gem. This 78-minute disc contains perhaps the least known of the brothers' work together: The Montgomery Brothers (Fantasy,1960) and The Montgomery Brothers In Canada (Fantasy, 1961). Both were made after Wes shook the world with his guitar sound on his 1959 Riverside debut. And although the brothers continued to work together in performance right up until Wes' death in 1968, they were only recorded on a few other occasions: Groove Yard (OJC), George Shearing and the Montgomery Brothers (OJC) and on Wes's Fingerpickin' (Blue Note).

All 13 tracks on Groove Brothers brim with inventiveness –although Wes, who is predictably notable throughout, carries most melodies on the first session (Buddy takes the honors on much of the second set). What really stands out, though, is the musical chemistry these three have together. As the notes indicate, the brothers perform original blues and emerging jazz standards with "clearly-articulated unisons" and "contrapuntal voicings." That's a fancy way of saying these guys sound terrific together. Buddy is on piano for the first five tracks and vibes on the last eight, and Monk, the innovative electric bassist, sticks to acoustic bass throughout here.

And the highlights are plentiful. From the first session, there's the Wes originals, "D Natural Blues" and an appealing, early version of "Jingles." From the second set, there's Duke Person's superb "Jeannine," Claude Thornhill's interesting "Snowfall" (offering Buddy's notable solo), Charlie Parker's lively "Barbados" and the touching "You Don't Know What Love Is." Wes and Monk also duet most appealingly on "Angel Eyes" and Buddy's Wes-like "Beaux Arts."

Groove Brothers is easily recommended and an outstanding addition to Wes Montgomery's recorded legacy.

Tracks:D-Natural Blues; June in January; Buddy's Tune; Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?); Jingles; Jeannine; Snowfall; Angel Eyes; Barbados; This Love Of Mine; On Green Dolphin Street; You Don't Know What Love Is; Beaux Arts.

Personnel: Wes Montgomery: guitar; Buddy Montgomery: piano (1-5), vibes (6-13); Monk Montgomery: bass; Lawrence Marable (1-5), Paul Humphrey: drums.

| Record Label: Fantasy Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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