The Best Of…
For those of you overwhelmed by the investment in time and money it would require for the purchase of Wes Montgomery: The Complete Riverside Recordings, you can try this one CD because all of the tracks that appear on it are also in that mammoth boxed set.
Wes taught himself how to play guitar and was inspired by Charlie Christian, who played utilizing his thumb rather than using a pick. Wes was a session man for a while until Cannonball Adderley noticed him and brought him to the attention of Riverside Records co-founder Orrin Keepnews who signed him up and recorded him.
The tracks are slow, laid back. Wes and his band take their time, focused on the tune’s outcome, rather than allowing themselves to open up and go wherever the music takes them. The first time the album picks up with some momentum is track six, “Body and Soul (take 7),” when the flute of James Clay gets things jumping, but it doesn’t last long before Wes takes control and slows it back down. The one time he should slow down is on the Latin ballad “Besame Mucho,” but for some reason he speeds up the tempo, causing the song to lose any hint of its origins.
The music does pick up again on the Montgomery-penned compositions “Four On Six” and the live track “Full House” which is powered by the outstanding rhythm section of pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Jimmy Cobb, all of who were at the time working together as Miles Davis’s rhythm section.
This is a good album to listen to while relaxing because it could easily send you to slumber land if listened to in any state of reclining, but I can’t recommend its purchase. I would instead recommend the live album Wes Montgomery Full House which is a better showcase of Montgomery’s guitar playing.