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Wes Montgomery's Finest Hour

20 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 27, 2000
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Wes Montgomery's Finest Hour + Verve Jazz Masters 14
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

60 minutes of Wes's best on one mid-priced CD! He attacks jazz and pop standards with equal verve, playing dazzling guitar versions of Milestones; The Shadow of Your Smile; Goin' Out of My Head; Tequila; Road Song; Impressions; Sunny; A Day in the Life; Up and at It; Once I Loved , and six more.

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In the mid-1960s, Wes Montgomery went from being simply the most acclaimed jazz guitarist of the era to becoming an immense crossover success, setting the trend for later musicians like Grover Washington Jr. and George Benson. Often placed in pop-oriented big band and string settings, Montgomery covered earlier hits of the day--like "Tequila" and the Beatles' "A Day in the Life"--adding his trademark octaves and funky inflections. Given the opportunity, though, he was still an inspired improviser, a side that's best represented here by the big-band version of "Milestones" with organist Jimmy Smith, and the live recording of John Coltrane's "Impressions," with Montgomery blazing atop the rhythm section of Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb. This is a good introduction to the different facets of Montgomery's later recordings, with the emphasis on the pop side of the equation. Those seeking more of his forthright jazz playing of the time should go directly to Impressions: the Verve Jazz Sides. --Stuart Broomer

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 27, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Verve
  • ASIN: B00004TWRQ
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,691 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Enrique Torres VINE VOICE on November 15, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is the side off Wes Montgomery most people are aware of. This is a collection of his most "popular" recordings fron the sixties. Several of the songs are pop tunes from that era but Wes had a unique talent to improvise a standard and eventually bring you back to the more "recognizeable" parts of the song. His style is easily identifiable as he takes the listener soaring and weaving as he moves about on the fret, using his thumb like no other before or since. Anyone who is familiar with Wes will immmediately remember his versions of such pop songs as "A Day in The Life", "Sunny". "Tequila" and his hit "Going out of my Head". The classics are all here on this 66 minute beaut, including the songs he penned like "Road Song", "Bumpin" and my personal fave "Bumpin On Sunset". I don't know if it was because I actually remember being on Sunset Blvd. listening to Wes or what but I just love this song. I've had versions in every format of my life beginning with vynyl,ssshhhhhh-eight track,cassette and now CD of this song. It is just a cool song, from my perspective worth buying for just that 5 minute song alone! Back to the review, the Wes on this CD is more accesible and palateable, not as free flowing as the work he did with his brothers. The arraignments are lush, strings and orchestral at times, but ever tasty. I guess you could say that this is the foundation for what is now known as pop jazz, smooth jazz or whatever you want to call it. What it is not is hard core, straight ahead jazz, with the exception of "Impressions" where he plays the parts that John Coltrane penned.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mack Butcher on August 1, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Here's the deal. If "smooth jazz" just makes you cringe, stay away from this title. If you like "smooth" or "groove" jazz, this is quite good. Personally, I don't generally care for any of those genres, but I make an exception for this album.

Most of the music here is not what I consider jazz - not serious or "real" jazz, anyway. And if you want to hear Wes playing jazz guitar, or hear him playing at the top of his form, look for the albums on Riverside and Pacific (I recommend "Incredible Jazz Guitar", "Boss Guitar" and "So Much Guitar", but they're all good).

In the words of Wes himself: "There's a jazz conception to what I'm doing, but I'm playing popular music and it should be regarded as such." These are pop/groove instrumentals with a "jazzy" feel - and as a serious jazz fan, I dislike almost anything that can be described as "jazzy". This music is a rare exception, but it's not really jazz and unless you're looking for old-style smooth/pop "jazz", there are MUCH better Wes Montgomery albums out there.

So - I give it 3 stars because, in the end, I find that I actually enjoy listening to it. I prefer any of his jazz albums to this, but for light listening or background music, this is not bad at all. For lounge music, it's actually quite fine.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca*rhapsodyinblue* VINE VOICE on February 28, 2007
Format: Audio CD
"The sound is the first thing you notice. It's round and warm, without the brittleness often associated with jazz guitar or the wailing, screaming, look-at-me quality that can mar even the best blues and rock playing. Produced with his thumb rather than a pick, it's a profoundly human sound that invites you in." ~ Peter Keepnews, Liner Notes, March 2000 ~

This lovely compilation album, "Wes Montgomery's Finest Hour" is one of my top favorites guitar music from my collection. This is truly the lyrical guitar virtuoso's ultra finest of his finest hours. It's always been so pleasurable listening to sixteen mesmerizing tunes from the initial track and one of his original compositions, "Bumpin' On Sunset" to the final one, also an original, "Road Song."

Duke Ellington once said: "there are only two kinds of music, good and bad." And definitely this album falls into the first category. So good that any listener will have an hour of great listening experience. Wes Montgomery, one of the tops in my list of favorite jazz giants, will mesmerize you with three of my all-time favorites, "The Shadow Of Your Smile," "Once I Loved" and "Watch What Happens." These tunes are so remarkable - they have that calming and soothing effect that will make you want to listen over and over again, like a hundred times without tiring!

For someone who started playing the guitar at twenty, Wes Montgomery was one of the best jazz guitarists in American music history. He was known for the "use of octaves" and his trademark of using his right thumb instead of a pick, which I think is so uniquely brilliant! He played his signature Gibson L-5 and late in his career, an L4-CES reissue with such precision, elegance and overwhelming beauty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J.L. Smith on April 22, 2007
Format: Audio CD
I'm not going to re-hash the traditionalist vs sellout theme here.
I will however let it be known that I am not a fan of re-interpretations of current pop music in other forms. Things like these have traditionally smacked of embarrassing attempts at relevancy, Ala "Peace Love & Pops" by Arthur Fielder and The Boston Pops Orchestra.
BUT, there are exceptions, and this is one.
Yes, some of these tracks don't quite work. I was dissapointed with "Milestones" a personal favorite. Something's lost in this arrangements really slow tempo (not Montgomery's playing). It has all the soul of a Wal-Mart.
But for the most part, this is a really strong crossover piece with moments that just shine.
If you're not tappin' and snappin' to "Up And At It" "Impressions" and the wonderful "Twisted Blues" you ain't livin' Brother!
If this is cheesy elevator music in a equally bad hotel, then book me for a stay.
As I found this a pleasant musical snapshot of the late 60's filled with trademark Wes harmonics.
Overall a better attempt at this type of recording than most.
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