Tribute To Wes Montgomery

AAJ Staff By

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Santa Rosa Jazz Club
Camarillo, CA
March 8, 2003

This performance was as hot as a bowl of baked grits. It smoked, it steamed and it simmered with three of the top guitarists in the jazz world cooking up a storm, and when you add Kendall Kaye on drums and Chuck Berghofer on bass, you have a musical dream team.

To say that Anthony Wilson is a superb guitarist is an understatement. His dexterity and ideas are spellbinding. Whether it's a ballad or bop, Wilson's phrasing is phenomenal. The notes fly fast and furious, and always perfectly constructed and apropos to the tune.

Anthony Wilson is an avid historian of this music we call "modern jazz"....When asked how he became so knowledgable about such stalwarts as Earl Coleman and King Pleasure, he explained that it was the result of seeking out their music early on. One must feel that this interest certainly is reflected in his playing. After all, interest creates energy which in turn generates imagination and inventiveness.

Mitch Holder matches anyone, anywhere in the business of improvisation and style. He has speed to burn and ballads to sweetly rhapsodize. Listening to Holder extrapolate on his instrument is a joyful excursion into a place where notes become more than sounds..They are vivid splashes of color on a canvas of inspiration and artistry. In a word Mitch Holder is synonymous with elegance and proficiency.

The ebullient Thom Rotella's exuberance is felt in every passage of his solos. Rotella matches his worthy constituents in virtuosity and expression. He was the perfect choice in this tribute to the late Wes Montgomery.

Kendall Kaye exhibited refinement and tact in his role as keeper of the time. His playing was in tune with the moods of the moment, never overplaying. Kaye fit in nicely with this group.

Chuck Berghofer continues to flourish in the world of music. Along with Kaye, the time was perfect and his solos were thought provoking, slightly dark with humor slyly interjected and a Bass sound that years of experience have refined into a thing of beauty and eloquence.

Most of the tunes were Wes Montgomery originals with some standards added that were given new life by this assemblage of talented artists.

Compositions like "Dearly Beloved" done at racehorse tempo were remarkable in the fluency and acrobatics that put it into orbit...Montgomery's "Sundown" was the opener and set the stage for things to come, everyone swung and it was the first chapter in a night of grandeur, refined grace and no holds barred stimuli.


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