Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Wes Montgomery - Movin': The Complete Verve Recordings (Hip-O Select / Verve, 2011)

Guitarist Wes Montgomery had a lengthy run with Riverside Records during the 1950’s and early 60’s positioning himself as one of the leading guitarists in jazz. Looking to expand his horizons, Montgomery signed with Creed Taylor and the Verve Records label for a two-year stint which saw him recording a large amount of music, much of it in an accessible pop-flavored vein with string and brass arrangements woven around Montgomery’s guitar. He also continued to record straight-ahead jazz and organ flavored music in addition to the crossover music that was at the core of his Verve Recordings. This set from Hip-O collects all of Montgomery’s recordings for the label, 82 tracks over 5 compact discs. Movin’ Wes, Bumpin’, Goin’ Out Of My Head, Tequila and California Dreaming are the albums that feature Montgomery’s guitar in an orchestral configuration, with the backing arranged by the likes of Oliver Nelson and Don Sebesky. The large format recordings were a definite split from his earlier small group recordings, placing the guitar amidst a lush bed of strings. Despite the setting, Montgomery’s playing is as beautiful and distinctive as ever, and the collaboration works well on pop covers like “Tequila” and “Goin’ Out of My Head” which was awarded a Grammy. The real meat of this collection comes with the pairing of Montgomery with the Wynton Kelly Trio, recorded live at the Half Note and in the studio. This is some of the finest straight ahead jazz guitar ever recorded, and the impassioned playing on jazz standards like “Impressions” and “No Blues” is a joy to behold. Wrapping up the collection besides a few overdubbed outtakes are two albums that Montgomery recorded with the organist Jimmy Smith, an inspired combination that yielded snazzy versions of “King of the Road” as well as jazz classics “Milestones” and “‘Round Midnight.” Movin': The Complete Verve Recordings - amazon.com

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