Wes Montgomery – Riverside Profiles – Riverside

by | Feb 16, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Wes Montgomery – Riverside Profiles – Riverside 30074-2, 60:50 + bonus sampler ****:

Like all of the Riverside Profiles, Wes Montgomery’s features a bonus CD of Riverside artists similar to the guitarist in style and/or tone. The only problem with this is that the same songs and artists are featured on the bonus CDs that come with this entire series! While not taking away from the material found on any of the Profiles, this ubiquitous “Bonus CD” being the same for the different artists is quite lame.

During Montgomery’s time with Riverside, he played with such jazz greats as bassist Ron Carter, pianist Kenny Burrell, bassist Paul Chambers, and vibes player Milt Jackson. Carter, especially is a force on Twisted Blues, propelling the song’s forward momentum as pianist Milt Jones comps as if he’s making a nest for Montgomery’s guitar notes. Jackson’s vibe playing on Delilah is gorgeous, with him and Montgomery trading off eight bars.

Four on Six, the album’s first track, is based on the changes to George Gershwin’s Summertime. During Montgomery’s first solo, he moves from playing notes to octaves to heavy block chords, with the effect being an increase in tension in the groove. During the respective solos of pianist Tommy Flanagan and Albert “Tootie” Heath, Montgomery plays thick comping chords that provide a solid foundation for each player to improvise over, as well as providing a melodic counterpoint.

The above mentioned Twisted Blues features awesome work from Carter and Milt Jackson, the former’s solo sounding like a train engine, while the latter’s is an energetic but controlled and notable for its perfect note choice. On Round Midnight, Montgomery lays down hard, low lines over Mel Rhyne’s organ, the sound of which conjures up images of steam rising off a dark city street. In the hands of Montgomery and Rhyne, the Monk standard sounds like the calm (as well as the loneliness) of a city after most everyone has gone to bed.

On Body and Soul, Montgomery played a borrowed six-string guitar that had been tuned down an octave, giving it a rough, bassy tone that the guitarist easily adjusts to. Much like on Four on Six, Montgomery’s first solo moves from single notes to octaves to block chords, creating a tension that breaks when James Clay’s flute enters the mix. Clay’s playing is excited and rhythmic, and he seems to be trying to match the quick tempo of Sam Jones’ bass. Montgomery’s lowered octave guitar often pops and hisses like a bass string, sometimes making it sound like there are two bass players.

I highly recommend Wes Montgomery’s Riverside Profiles, not only because Montgomery never fails to deliver subtle, sophisticated, and melodic lines out of thin air, but because of the other talent on hand. Milt Jackson’s vibes are heavenly (it sounds like he’s playing a chandelier!) and Mel Rhyne’s organ is so smooth it takes your breath away.

TrackList: Four on Six, Twisted Blues, Delilah, S.O.S., Round Midnight, West Coast Blues, Groove Yard, Body and Soul, Sesame Mucho, Tune Up, Freddie Freeloader

– Daniel Krow

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