Wes Montgomery: Live in '65

Jim Santella By

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Wes Montgomery

Live in '65

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many pages equate to the feeling that you get from a video? As the saying goes, "It's the next best thing to being there.

These three sessions, produced for Reelin' In The Years Productions in Europe, feature guitarist Wes Montgomery with three different piano trios. Filmed in black and white for television, the images are clear and crisp, sonically re-mastered for DVD, and provide an excellent window into the persona and musicianship of the legendary guitarist. As Pat Metheny mentions in his extensive liner notes, Montgomery is captured on film while setting up "The End of a Love Affair in rehearsal with his Dutch quartet, demonstrating his fluency in the "traditional nomenclature of harmony and relating his thoughts to the other musicians eloquently.

Close-ups of Montgomery reveal many of the secrets to his beautiful sound. The thumb, the harmonic adventure, the natural sense of swing, and the ease with which he gets along with the other players, several of whom he had not worked with before, show why he was such an influential guitarist and a memorable musical voice and jazz soloist.

The first three pieces are from an April 2, 1965 session in Holland with pianist Pim Jacobs, bassist Ruud Jacobs and drummer Han Bennink. They groove comfortably and provide a genuine look at how happy working musicians can be when they're doing what they love.

The April 4 session in Belgium is much more serious. With pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Arthur Harper and drummer Jimmy Lovelace, the guitarist moves faster with a steely drive. Dressed in dark suits with skinny 1960s neckties, his quartet interprets five songs while exhibiting an inner fire and drive. "Here's that Rainy Day simmers comfortably as a bossa nova, and "Boy Next Door rambles moderately as a beautiful ballad, while the other tunes drive with plenty of heat.

The final five numbers on the program were filmed May 7 in England with pianist Stan Tracey, bassist Rick Laird, and drummer Jackie Dougan. This session is quite different from the other two in that it includes commentary from club owner Ronnie Scott, who explains the career and music of Wes Montgomery as if he were giving a lecture. The music, of course, features more of Montgomery's great stuff with personable glimpses at each of the artists. The quartet swings and seems to enjoy every minute of the show. The guitarist's "West Coast Blues, in particular, makes this video stand out as an unforgettable piece of jazz history.

Tracks: I Love Blues; Nica's Dream; "Love Affair Rehearsal; The End of a Love Affair; Impressions; Twisted Blues; Here's That Rainy Day; Jingles; Boy Next Door; Four on Six; Full House; Here's That Rainy Day; Twisted Blues; West Coast Blues.

Personnel: Wes Montgomery: guitar; Pim Jacobs, Harold Mabern, Stan Tracey: piano; Ruud Jacobs, Arthur Harper, Rick Laird: bass; Han Bennink, Jimmy Lovelace, Jackie Dougan: drums.

Production Notes: 78 minutes. Recorded April 2, 1965 in Holland; April 4, 1965 in Belgium; and May 7, 1965 in England. Extras: rare photographs, memorabilia collage.


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