Reviews Press Stories
Review "Wes Montgomery Live in "65"
Wes Montgomery “Live in ‘65” DVD release by Reeling in the Years Productions. Jazz Icons Naxos 2.119003
Here’s a portrait of Wes Montgomery that MUST be seen by all. Wes did three European TV shows as part of a 1965 tour. The recordings of these shows are the source material for this DVD.
The first show on the DVD, from Holland (April 2, 1965), is perhaps the most interesting. It features Wes rehearsing some of the music and we see Wes talking over “The End of a Love Affair” with the band. It’s the only footage I’ve ever seen with Wes talking and explaining how he approaches the tune. Priceless! His warmth and spirit is particularly evident. Wes’ trio from the Holland session has Pim Jacobs piano, Ruud Jacobs bass, and Han Bennick on drums. This trio is outstanding; Pim Jacobs is reminiscent of Wynton Kelly.
The second show, from Belgium, (April 4, 1965) has been out for awhile. Released some years ago on VHS (Vestapol Productions 13084. Vestapol is a division of Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop, Inc). The visuals and sound are a bit better on this segment. This is a classic session. Wes is in top form with an incredible band: Harold Mabern, Arthur Harper, (spelled “Aurther” on the credits) and Jimmy Lovelace. The tunes include “Impressions”, “Twisted Blues”, Here’s that Rainy Day”, “Jingles” and “The Girl Next Door”.
Some things that Wes plays here are mind boggling! He’s a musician that does the same thing to me as Smith, Christian, Django, Raney, etc. I think I know what he plays but it always sounds new and inspiring. In his solo on “Jingles”, for example, the presence of the man is wonderful. He is charismatic, in control, and he very much allows you to be part of this spirit.
The third show, entitled “Boss Guitar, the Art of Wes Montgomery” was recorded in England (May 5th, 1965). This is not on the DVD that’s been out and featured on “Legends of Jazz Guitar” from Stephan Grossman; it was filmed during Wes’s month long engagement at the legendary Ronnie Scott club. It has Ronnie Scott himself introducing some of the tunes and telling some interesting anecdotes while Wes sits and seems somewhat uncomfortable. The rhythm section consists of pianist Stan Tracey, bassist Rick Laird, who later joined the famous Mahavishnu Orchestra and Jackie Cougan on drums. Though Wes plays well, this show is a bit stiffer than the other shows. What is interesting are the camera angles, particularly an over the shoulder view of Wes’s thumb as he plays. Wes starts the show with his classic tune “4 on 6” and then segues into another of his gems, “Full House”. Wes plays short solos but they are both great. A master at work. “Here’s That Rainy Day” is next and it’s the same arrangement as the Belgium show. It features a very emotional solo by Wes and in the key of “E”. There’s one spot at the end of the tune where Wes slightly messes up the arrangement and he smiles. Wonderful! “Jingles” is the last tune on the show and it swings like mad. The out tune is Wes’s “West Coast Blues” featuring Wes playing alone and it’s priceless. He plays an inspired chord interpretation that I think will be transcribed and put on all the Jazz guitar sites as soon as the DVD is available.
This DVD presents an opportunity to see and hear one of the all time great masters. The notes written by Pat Metheny, another master jazz guitarist, are concise and honest. What more could we ask for?
Jack Wilkins 2007