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Wes Montgomery

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States (where he also died of a heart attack in 1968), Montgomery came from a musical family, in which his brothers, Monk (string bass and electric bass) and Buddy (vibraphone, and piano), were jazz performers. Although Wes was not skilled at reading music, he could learn complex melodies and riffs by ear. Montgomery started learning guitar in his late teens, listening to and learning recordings of his idol, the guitarist Charlie Christian.

Along with the use of octaves (playing the same note on two strings one octave apart) for which he is widely known, Montgomery was also an excellent “single-line” or “single-note” player, and was very influential in the use of block chords in his solos. His playing on the jazz standard “Lover Man” is an example of his single-note, octave and block chord soloing. (”Lover Man” appears on the Fantasy album THE MONTGOMERY BROTHERS.)

Instead of using a guitar pick, Montgomery plucked the strings with the fleshy part of his thumb, using downstrokes for single notes and a combination of upstrokes and downstrokes for chords and octaves. This technique enabled him to get a mellow, expressive tone from his guitar. George Benson, in the liner notes of the Ultimate Wes Montgomery album, wrote that “Wes had a corn on his thumb, which gave his sound that point. He would get one sound for the soft parts, and then that point by using the corn. That's why no one will ever match Wes. And his thumb was double- jointed. He could bend it all the way back to touch his wrist, which he would do to shock people.”

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Photos

Albums

The NDR Hamburg...

Jazzline Classics
2021

buy

Wes’s Best: The...

Resonance Records
2019

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In Paris: The...

Resonance Records
2018

buy

One Night in Indy

Resonance Records
2018

buy

Smokin’ in Seattle:...

Resonance Records
2017

buy

Wes Montgomery: In...

Resonance Records
2015

buy

View complete discography at attictoys.com

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