Tim Fitzgerald’s Full House

The Wes Montgomery Project

Guitarist Fitzgerald’s first major Montgomery effort was the book 625 Alive: The Wes Montgomery BBC-TV Performance Transcribed, which offered an annotated, curated exploration of the jazz icon’s legendary 1965 British TV performance. Full House, the Chicago-based septet Fitzgerald organized in 2015, celebrates Montgomery’s genius through timeless favorites, many from his early, groundbreaking albums for Riverside.

While the broad strokes of these Montgomery standards remain, these veteran musicians used them to explore more-original concepts. Fitzgerald reinvents “Four on Six” as a waltz, his sinuous passages reflecting both his style and the master’s influence, which pianist Tom Vaitsas follows with an equally dynamic break. On “Cariba” and “Mr. Walker,” Fitzgerald invokes the trademark Montgomery octaves before veering off to explore his own perspectives.

As the guitarist begins the graceful ballad “While We’re Young,” tenor and alto saxes and trumpet follow his lead. While less-frantic than Wes’ original, the Verve-era “Twisted Blues” is a satisfying performance as Fitzgerald intertwines Tim’s ideas and his own. On “West Coast Blues,” trumpeter Victor Garcia spins loose, swinging, creative lines. Tim Fitzgerald, his Gibson ES-175 and bandmates are clearly honoring Wes’ music. By tapping into their own creativity, they do it even greater justice.

This article originally appeared in VG’s January 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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