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Monk Montgomery

William Howard “Monk” Montgomery was an American jazz bassist. He was a pioneer of the electric bass guitar and possibly the first to record on it when he recorded with Art Farmer in 1953. He was the brother of jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery and vibraphonist Buddy Montgomery.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, into a musical family, Monk had three brothers and a sister. His older brother Thomas played drums, and died at 16. Monk gave his younger brother Wes (born 1923) a tenor guitar when Wes was 11 or 12. Wes took up the electric guitar at age 19 and went on to major success. The youngest brother, Buddy (born 1930) played piano and later took up the vibraphone. Their younger sister, Ervena (Lena), also played piano. Monk himself did not take up the double bass until he was 30, after hearing one of Wes' groups perform.

The three brothers released a number of albums together as the Montgomery Brothers, also playing together on some albums credited to Wes. Also Buddy and Monk recorded many albums together in their group The Mastersounds.

He is perhaps the first electric bassist of significance to jazz, taking up the Fender Precision Bass in 1952 or '53 after replacing Roy Johnson in the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. He said his biggest influences as a bassist were Jimmy Blanton, Ray Brown, and Charles Mingus. Monk played electric bass with his thumb (brother Wes, played electric guitar with his thumb, also) and adapted his jazz playing from double bass to electric. In the 1960s he took up Fender Jazz Bass, playing with a felt pick.

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Albums

Westward Bound!

Reel to Real
2021

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Reality

Sevenahalf Records
2013

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Bass Odyssey

Sevenahalf Records
1971

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It's Never Too Late

Sevenahalf Records
1969

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A Place In The Sun

Sevenahalf Records
1969

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Live

Sevenahalf Records
0

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