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Smokin' at the Half Note Live
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If you're new to Wes, don't expect to be blown away by just one recording. Guitar is such a popular if not universal instrument that to be designated "number one" often seems to over-inflate listeners' expectations, inviting subsequent doubt and dissent. 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. Nothing is tentative--in terms of notes, phrases, or choruses. It's all so completely lyrical and logical that the listener's biggest challenge can be not to take it for granted.
His solo on Sam Jones' "Unit 7" might serve as a touchstone to all of his playing.Read more ›
As far as the reviewer who said Wes was half the guitarist that Joe Pass was, he's right in a sense. Wes' thumb style limited his speed, so he couldn't play as fast as some other guitarists. However, Wes had something that Joe Pass, Johnny Smith, and Tal Farlow lacked: phrasing. Listening to Joe pick every note is enough to make a horn player faint. After listening to most jazz guitarists, I get the urge to say, "That's nice, but what's your point?" They can play fast, complex lines, but none of it seems to have any purpose other than showing off. Wes was a master at phrasing and the use of space. He skillfully used single lines, octaves, and chords to get his point across. He carefully constructed coherent solos that always seemed to say something. Listen to No Blues on this album. Though Wes plays a long solo, each chorus is more exciting than the one before it. When I listen to Joe Pass, each chorus does not build on the one before it, and it all gets boring very quickly.
His stirring performances of "No Blues" and "Four on Six," in particular, stand out as amazing examples of his innovation, creativity and outstanding jazz guitar technique.
If you are interested in hearing some of Wes' best studio work, check out "The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery"- one of the best jazz guitar albums of all time!
Thank you, Wes, for inspiring countless jazz guitarists, and music-lovers everywhere!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wes Montgomery has always been one of my favorite jazz performers. I first heard him when I was in high school and was lucky enough to see him live around the same time. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Terry Adams
I listen to and own a lot of jazz, and this album is easily top three. In fact it's probably my favorite. If your wanting to her wes at his peak this is it.Published on May 1, 2014 by Forest M. Spradlin
A great addition to any jazz collection. Now if somebody could just shut the emcee's pie-hole. He is totally obtrusive...Published on February 24, 2013 by franguccio
Wes in very high musical form.
A great recording, not bathed in an orchestra or other surroundings. Much more pure and distilled. Read more
Smokin at the half note is a brilliant album featuring amongst others Wynton Kelly on piano and Wes Montgomery on guitar. Read morePublished on July 2, 2011 by iZappa
Whenever I want some jazz at sundown to prepare for an evening out, my right hand seems to gravitate towards this album. The track "Four on Six" will become one of your favorites.Published on August 10, 2009 by J. Word
. . . check out "Impressions: the Verve Jazz sides"
That two CD-set has the complete Half Note live session recording plus some very good bonus tracks. Read more