After delving into the repertoire of legendary guitarist Wes Montgomery at a gig in the not-so-distant past, six-stringer Nelson Riveros was struck with the idea for this tribute project. Playing true to Montgomery's work and legacy, while pulling from his own Colombian roots and imbuing the music with varied elements drawn from the broader Latin lexicon, Riveros brands this album with a syncretic signature and a hefty helping of pure joy.
Opening with "Road Song," Riveros retains the expected straight-time flow. But structural reorganization, enhancements, montunos and a surprise twist at the end make this take anything but routine. A samba-fied run through "Tear It Down" follows, recontextualizing the music and upping its ebullience factor a touch in the process. Then there's "Four On Six," tethered to a tumbao; "Wes' Tune," nodding to Riveros' heritage with a pronounced porro influence; original "Nelson's Groove," drawing inspiration from the previous composition, setting sail with afoxé and baião rhythms, and showcasing some of the leader's most memorable playing; and "West Coast Blues," arranged as a joropa with a buoyant perspective.
Riveros chose wisely in putting together the personnel for this album, as pianist Hector Martignon, bassist Andy McKee, drummer Mark Walker and percussionist Jonathan Gomez prove wholly capable of taking on both the folkloric and jazz implications of the music while injecting their respective personalities into the production. That's wholly evident on the aforementioned material and the final third of the album, offering the energized "Jingles," odd-metered original "Facing Wes," and a solo guitar take on "Leila." With respect and reinvention balancing the scales, The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery easily proves its worth.
Road Song; Tear it Down; Four on Six; Wes' Tune; Nelson's Groove; West Coast Blues; Jingles; Facing Wes; Leila.
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