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Buddy Montgomery: Here Again

Joel Roberts By

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Buddy Montgomery, the youngest and sole surviving Montgomery brother, is a musician ripe for rediscovery. Since achieving major success in the 1960s with the Montgomery Brothers band, and (along with brother Monk on bass) backing brother Wes on some of the guitar great's most popular albums, Buddy has been heard from only occasionally. His new trio album on Sharp Nine Records, Here Again, shows him still in fine form both as a composer and gently swinging pianist.

Montgomery is from the generation of piano players between bebop pioneers Monk and Powell and 1960s innovators Tyner, Hancock, and Corea. And he sounds like it: His smooth, bluesy playing fits firmly within the post-bop tradition with a strong Latin influence. He is an extremely quiet, economical player not given to loud flourishes or aggressive physical attacks on the keyboard. Montgomery's instrumental virtuosity doesn't leap out at you. His strengths are more subtle. Indeed, this is one of the quieter, more thoughtful albums of the year. And the type of album that may require several listenings to appreciate fully.

If the album has one weakness, it is the relative sameness of the compositions and tempos. Even the usually up-tempo chestnut "That Old Black Magic" is transformed here into an almost unrecognizable slow ballad. One or two fast numbers, or a straight out blues, might have livened things up a bit. But, with solid backing from bassist Jeff Chambers and drummer Ray Appleton, Montgomery has made a fine album of quiet, soulful piano music.


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