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Smokin' At The Half Note (Remastered) Original recording remastered

4.8 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, February 15, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Wynton Kelly Trio and Wes just tear up this set of standards and originals on this 1965 LP. They do Willow Weep for Me; Misty; No Blues; If You Could See Me Now; What's New; Impressions , and more!

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Wes Montgomery brought the art of the electric guitar to new heights in the 1950s and 1960s before his untimely death at 43. His vaulting style employed octaves much as his main influence, Charlie Christian, did in the Benny Goodman Sextet. Montgomery's crowd-pleasing facility with the fretboard was best employed in live performance when he could stretch out and really be heard. Smokin' is a thoroughly satisfying live album recorded in 1965 and 1966 at the New York nightclub, with co-leader Wynton Kelly and his trio--Kelly on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Jimmy Cobb on drums. Montgomery and Kelly are in perfect sync here, especially on "No Blues" and "If You Could See Me Now." --John Swenson
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 15, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Verve
  • ASIN: B0006VXF4G
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,189 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Giuseppe C. HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 18, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This remastered, expanded edition of the classic Wes Montgomery-Wynton Kelly session is essentially an economy-priced version of the import, "The Complete Live at the Half Note." If you have the original "Smokin' at the Half Note" and are not a Wes completist, the audio quality of this version is not sufficiently superior, imo, to justify purchase. As for the addition of six previously unreleased tunes, only "Impressions" might be considered essential. Still, it's reassuring to see that Wes' popularity continues to be supported by new editions of his work.

Wes did not receive widespread public recognition until he was 35, and he was barely 44 when he died. Still, it's unlikely any other guitarist (including Christian and Django) has had a greater impact in the history of this music. By the time he had moved on from Riverside to this session for Verve, he had little to prove to musicians and was beginning to accept more accessible, popular assignments that would broaden his appeal to the general public. "Smokin'," despite lacking any tunes as challenging as "Airegin" ("The Incredible Guitar Artistry of"), can stand alongside his Riverside work as an example of creative, inspired playing. And the presence of Wyn Kelley along with Chambers and Cobb definitely raises the swing factor a notch.

What sets Wes apart from the field is not pyrotechnical legerdemain or bold innovation but every "little" thing that he does so well so effortlessly so much of the time. The sound he gets out of the instrument is of itself a marvel. It has a deep and meaty, utterly natural, resonance, almost as if the tone is doubling itself, reminding me less of other guitarists than of Bird and Clifford. Additionally, there's never a microsecond of doubt in his playing or solo constructions.
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Format: Audio CD
This cd and "Full House" are Wes Montgomery's two best cd's, and they are both live. If you like the one, get the other. If you have both, buy anything Wes did on Riverside. All those cd's are great!
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Talk about a foursome! This is one of my top twenty favorite albums. Anyone who plays the guitar needs to purchase this album just to hear why many consider Wes to be the greatest guitar player in jazz history. I was actually turned on to this album by a buddy of mine who played guitar for a speed metal band. He was in awe, just as I was the first time I heard it and everytime I hear it to this day! However, it's not just Montgomery that shines. The rythm section of Cobb, Kelly and Chambers just might be the best you will ever hear. They are simply flawless and this is a 'live' album to boot. Chambers is my second favorite bass player right behind Mingus and he has never been better. I always thought that Jimmy Cobb was one of the most underated drummers of his time. This is also my favorite work of Wynton Kelly. His piano playing compliments Montgomery perfectly. All four of these artists brought their 'A' game to the table during this live session (augmented by a couple of studio tracks as well) and it really shows throughout. This one is truly special and everytime I hear it I enjoy it more than the last time (I always pick up something new!). I will not pretend to be a music and/or jazz scholar, nor am I a musician. I am however, someone who has listened to thousands of albums of all types of music (rock, jazz, soul, ska, punk, reggae, rap, country, bluegrass, folk, classical, etc...) and yet nothing puts a smile on my face and serenity in my soul like this does. All I have to say is thank you to the heavens for creating such wonderful artists who created such wonderful sounds. Beautiful music like this truly does help alleviate the pain and ennui of living in today's not so beautiful world.
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Format: Audio CD
with so many great guitar players referring to him as their favorite it was time to delve into jazz (a music I never really found myself loving - aside from bits of Django- )but after a couple of listens it's easy to overlook the grandiose over dramatic piano solos and buzzy bass noise.

This is a great album - Montgomery at first sounds choppy by comparison to Django who always struck me as just pure fluidity.
M. seems to want you to hear every note, clear and strong - his tone is very basic - a big jazzbox clearly amped - and you can hear him wide open - each formula piece of his lyrical leads is done with such casual ease you'd think it was something programmed. Players say he was "on" this night - and when you get your ear tuned to the musical style "be-bop" I guess - you can hear him fiddling with "salt-peanuts" and other brass instrument lines that come from his hands with ease.

a great album.
even for a die-hard punk enthusaist.
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Format: Audio CD
I'm a guitar player, a blues-rock oriented type of player and I've been studying jazz guitar for about a year with a teacher. I have a lot of Jazz guitar albums, I don't have many albums by Wes. However, I feel this album is a great album. In another review of an album, I read a jazz guitar player say that there are many jazz guitar players who have or had better technique than Wes. I'd like to know who those guitar players are. In fact, in my opinion Wes Montgomery isn't even one of the top 3 jazz guitar players that I like. Nonetheless, having said that I cannot deny his greatness as a guitar player and musician. When you listen to him, all of this is evident. As the great Joe Satriani said himself and I am paraphrasing: " Lots of guitarists can play very fast and have a lot of technique but show me a guitar player who can play something that moves people. In other words, just because someone can play something that's very difficult to play that doesn't mean that that musician is automatically superior to someone who plays slower and plays songs that not as difficult to play. The question isn't the difficulty of the piece but rather does that piece move people." Anyone who is familiar with Satriani knows that in terms of technique Satriani is the real deal, at least as far as rock and roll is concerned. Check out this album, Wes plays a lot of single note phrasing as apposed to octaves for which he is well known. I'll tell you what, if Wes Montgomery is lacking in technique, the that's the kind of "technique" I want to have. Get the album, if you like good straight ahead jazz, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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