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Wes Montgomery: In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording

C. Michael Bailey By

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Zev Feldman has called Resonance Records, "The house Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery built." That may be hyperbolic, but the label has liberated from obscurity many previously unreleased or rarely heard performances by the two artists. Regarding Montgomery, Resonance has released four Montgomery recordings to date: Echoes of Indiana Avenue (Resonance, 2012); In The Beginning (Resonance, 2015); One Night in Indy (Resonance, 2016); and Smokin' in Seattle: Live At the Penthouse 1966 (Resonance, 2017). The label now adds a diamond pin to this crown in the form of the present In Paris—The Definitive ORTF Recording.

Afraid of flying, Montgomery made only a single trip to Europe, only after he was assured that the rest of the tour he would travel by train. On this tour, Montgomery appeared in Paris on March 27, 1965 at the Theatre Des Champs-Elysee. The concert was recorded, and the tapes retained by the National Audiovisual Institute of France (INA), a public institution overseeing the historic office of French Radio and Television (ORTF). This is Resonance Records second collaboration with the organization, the first being Larry Young's In Paris: The ORTF Recordings (Resonance Records, 2016). It is a hopeful sign that there is more of this great, previously unrelease music to come.

Disc one contains solid performances of Montgomery's "Four on Six" and "Jingles," as well as John Coltrane's "So What" contrafact "Impressions." This is the introspective part of the performance, Montgomery's articulation precise and emotive. All pieces receive a lengthy airing with compact support from his traveling trio of pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Arthur Harper, and drummer Jimmy Lovelace. If disc one is introspective, disc two is radioactively extroverted. Opening with Mabern's nod to tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, "To Wane," Montgomery consumes his part at a relentless tempo. Then the show becomes all Montgomery, adding tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin to reprise his performances of a sturdily -built "Full House" and "Blue 'N Boogie" from the previously recorded concert Full House (Riverside, 1962/2007). "'round Midnight was always a good vehicle for Montgomery, here sharing duties with Griffin and turning in a near iconic performance. The aforementioned "Blue 'N Boogie is coupled with Montgomery's "Kansas City Blues" creating an effective 12-bar bop juggernaut that leads to an equal length reading of Montgomery's "Twisted Blues."

This particular concert has been bootlegged since the mid-1970s, typically with inferior sound quality. That almost justifies its existence as such because of Montgomery's brief corporeal and recording life. Resurrected with a brand-new shine on it, In Paris—The Definitive ORTF Recording is not merely for Montgomery completists, but is as necessary as the live recordings Full House or Wynton Kelly Trio With Wes Montgomery -Smokin' At The Half Note (Verve, 1965) are to the Montgomery discography.

Track Listing: CD 1:
Four on Six; Impressions; The Girl Next Door; Here's That Rainy Day; Jingles.
CD 2:
To Wane; Full House; 'Round Midnight; Blue 'n Boogie/West Coast Blues; Twisted Blues.

Personnel: Wes Montgomery: guitar; Harold Mabern: piano; Arthur Harper: bass; Jimmy Lovelace: drums; Johnny Griffin: tenor saxophone (2-2, 2-3, 2-4).

Title: In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Resonance Records


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