Friday, March 06, 2020

Montgomery Burns

Let's fire up two posts in three days about two all-time Hall of Fame guitar players, wanna? I thought so.
Today's axe wielder should need very little introduction, as he is one of the most beloved players of the instrument that shall ever stroke an octave run from a hollow-body guitar.
I can't believe I've never covered him before, but that changes today, on what would have been his 97th birthday.
Famous for gorgeous double-stop octaves and as adept with his thumb -- he rarely used a plectrum -- as any player ever, it's no hype to say he is one of the axemasters young players have to navigate to gain a full command over the instrument.
He only lived to be 45 years old, but in that time he became the most recognizable Jazz guitarist on planet Earth, and has been imitated like crazy ever since.
His lush tone and octave strumming are as much a part of the Jazz vocabulary of the six strings as controlled feedback and tapping are to the Rock lexicon.
He essentially took the eighth-note solo style of players like Charlie Christian to the next level, and integrated his famous double-stopped, gliding octave playing into it.
He came up with Lionel Hampton's band before branching out with his two brothers at the end of the 1950s, going solo as the Sixties got going.
As he progressed he began to integrate some of the sounds of the Rock and Pop music ruling the airwaves at the time into his fairly standard Hard Bop style, and is thought to be one of the indirect fathers of Fusion for this reason.
There will always be guitar players, and you better believe that every one of them will someday find themselves learning and processing the towering example set by Wes Montgomery, born this day in 1923.
Don't you fret -- yes, I went there -- because today we have a sweet 75 minutes of what made him the creative tsunami he was, sourced from some pretty tasty pre-broadcast tapes.
Wes Montgomery
VARA Studio 7 & VPRO Studios
Hilversum, The Netherlands

01 Straight, No Chaser
02 Just Friends
03 In a Mellow Tone
04 Opus Caprice
05 The Theme
06 Wes Montgomery intro
07 I Love Blues
08 Nica's Dream
09 End of a Love Affair (rehearsal)
10 End of a Love Affair

Total time: 1:15:29

Wes Montgomery - guitar
Clark Terry - trumpet & flugelhorn (Tracks 01-05)
Pim Jacobs - piano 
Ruud Jacobs - bass
Han Bennink - drums

Tracks 01-05 were recorded for VARA radio, and are pre-FM sourced
Tracks 06-10 were recorded for VPRO television, and are pre-broadcast sourced
all tracks remastered by EN, March 2020
These were taped on the same day as part of WM's epic 1965 European tour, much of which was captured for radio and TV and circulates pretty widely on both unofficial and official releases.
For this one, I took the pre-FM reels from Dutch radio -- there was a CD of 4 of the 5 tunes, sourced from a record, that came out over 30 years ago, but I dunno if it was really official -- and the pre-broadcast master of the 1/2 hour from Dutch TV (released on a gray area DVD in the 2000s) and remastered both to make one long, contiguous set.
The smooth octave doctor is in full operational mode here, and for the first half of the proceedings we even get a visit from trumpet deity Clark Terry, who trades fours with himself at one point as he rapidly switches from flugelhorn to trumpet and back again.
We'll be right back in 48 hours with yet another six-string samurai for the ages.
Don't you dare miss out on the birthday boy WesMo though, and this stellar and swinging document of a day in the life from 1965!--J.
3.6.1923 - 6.15.1968

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