European TV excerpts from Holland, Belgium & England
Studio: Jazz Icons Series 2.119003 (Distr. by Naxos)
Video: 4:3 full screen, B&W
Audio: English, DD mono
Extras: 20-p. booklet with rare photos and notes by Pat Metheny & Carlos Santana
Length: 78 min.
Surely a gem in the second series of Jazz Icons, especially for guitar players. They’ll go nuts being able to see the many close ups of Wes’ unique sans-pick picking technique and thumb-strumming. Along with Charlie Christian and Django, Montgomery was one of the most influential guitarists in the history of jazz. These are intimate studio settings, well-photographed in three different countries and often including rehearsals and banter between some of the tunes.
The Dutch trio of players includes the top drummer Han Bennink, and Wes has some informal instruction of pianist Pim Jacobs on one tune. Montgomery is very relaxed and informal, but uses some very advanced musical terminology, demonstrating that he put a great deal of thought into his unique style of playing. On the Belgian TV date he is joined by the rhythm section from NYC which was to stay with him for the European tour. Harold Mabern is the pianist, and the quartet really swings on the four numbers seen.
The last TV show is hosted by jazz club owner Ronnie Scott and has titles and introductory commentary by Scott to each of the five tunes. The situation is a bit more formal and Montgomery seems less at ease, but continues to play superbly. A couple of the tunes are duplicated among the three sources, but this provides an opportunity to compare their differing treatments, just as different versions of tracks on reissue CDs. The sound is excellent on all three sections, though of course mono. The picture, although black & white, is also very good. The note booklet is a gem of fascinating reading. Jazz Icons has done a good turn for jazz fans everywhere by digging up and presenting these jazz time capsules!
TrackList: Holland = I Love Blues, Nica’s Dream, Love Affair (rehearsal), The End of a Love Affair; Belgium = Impressions, Twisted Blues, Here’s That Rainy Day, Jingles, The Boy Next Door; England = Four On Six, Full House, Here’s That Rainy Day, Twisted Blues, West Coast Blues.
– John Henry