All eight of the albums Wes Montgomery issued on Verve in the mid-'60s (including the two he did with organist Jimmy Smith) are on this limited-edition, five-CD box set. With the addition of 20 bonus tracks (none previously unreleased, some of them alternate takes or overdubbed versions) and a 76-page booklet that includes readable reproductions of the original LP sleeves, it's the definitive compilation of his work for the label. By its very size, of course, its appeal might be limited to completists and serious collectors.
A rare meeting of guitarist Wes Montgomery and the trio of pianist Wynton Kelly – heard here on unissued material that stands strongly next to their classic Smoking At The Half Note album on Verve! About half the tracks here just feature Kelly's trio – but that's A-Ok with us, as the group is wonderful – a luminous unit that features Ron McClure on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums – both players who showcase the maturing style of Wynton's piano work – a great mix of lyricism that stretches out beautifully on the album's longer tracks! Montgomery joins in about a third into the set, and the tunes get even sharper and groovier – as Wes' tones ring out strongly next to the piano, often opening up Kelly with even more chromatic hues. The whole thing is very well-recorded, and beautifully remastered.
Orrin’s commentary (from his new liner notes): “I began constructing the 1960 definitive presentation of [Wes] Montgomery by recognizing the need to keep things as clear-cut and uncomplicated as possible. There were at least three unique aspects to his performing style: he played with his thumb, never using a pick… and his solos almost invariably included two elements routinely referred to as ‘impossible’—his use of octaves and of pianistic block chords. Self-taught (his first ‘lesson’ had involved heavy listening to Charlie Christian records) and never able to read music notation of any kind, he somehow possessed an unfailing command of the blues and of ballad tempo and was an impressive composer.”
Concord Music Group will release five new titles in its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series. Enhanced by 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarantino, several bonus tracks on nearly each disc (some previously unreleased) and new liner notes providing historical context to the original material, the series celebrates the 60th anniversary of Riverside Records, the prolific New York-based label that showcased some of the most influential jazz artists and recordings of the 1950s and '60s.
While it may be frustrating that Wes Montgomery all but stopped making "real" jazz records after the demise of the Riverside label in 1963, he didn't stop being a great musician, even if later recordings gave him less room to manifest the more exciting aspects of his talent. He continued to write and record original tunes, create turbulently logical solos with those dazzling octaves and block chords, and to include at least a few cooking tunes on his more produced albums. "Up and At It" is one of these, and while there isn't that much room to stretch out, it's still Montgomery all the way. Likewise the other original, "Goin' On to Detroit," is hardly the sound of a man just laying down the melody in octaves, as Montgomery was often accused of doing during this period. The rhythm section is none too shabby either: Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, and Grady Tate on drums.