The re-release of this brilliant album shows the man many consider the finest guitarist to ever live guiding Mel Rhyne (on Hammond B-3) and Jimmy Cobb (drums) through a set of tunes that demonstrate the ease and skill with which he navigated the fretboard.
While still a couple of years from the pop-tinged records that caused controversy in the jazz world, Montgomery does manage to surprise; “Besame Mucho” is set up as a light swinger that kicks things off with breezy feel. For a taste of his skills using chords, check out his cover of “Days of Wine and Roses” and its wonderful, subtle chord shadings while he stays true to the melody. On its own, his take on the classic “Dearly Beloved” is worth the price of admission; he plays a stunning intro before the solo, with its notes bouncing with joyful abandon. We’re also treated to a nice lesson in his use of octaves (which, in a way, became his trademark).
There are several wonderful originals here, too, including the bluesy swinger “Fried Pies,” with its descending motif and swinging solo. You can never go wrong with a Wes Montgomery album, and this reissue captures the brilliance of his early-’60s playing.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb. ’11 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.