May 18, 2024

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CD review: Wes Montgomery – At the BBC Live 1965 – 2022: Video, CD cover

On March 25, 1965, guitarist Wes Montgomery led his quartet into London’s BBC studios to perform for the TV show Jazz. Already known to the jazz community as a groundbreaking guitarist, Wes was at the top of his form, and, seemingly effortlessly, recorded one of the greatest jazz performances ever captured on film.

The Wes Montgomery BBC Performance Transcribed is the definitive transcription of the music created on that day. It contains Wes’ melodies and improvisations, including intros, solos, shout choruses and tags. Also included are a detailed harmonic and aesthetic analysis of each solo, insight in to Wes’ unique technique and fingering, and an interview with the band’s pianist, Harold Mabern.

Montgomery’s tour to Europe in 1965 was one of the few moments when he agreed to fly on an airplane. “If he could, he would go by car,” recalled Kip-news. In England, Wes performed in a television program on the BBC channel — Jazz 625, the recording of which is an invaluable document demonstrating his unique game. He played in a quartet — piano, bass and drums. Frequent close-ups of his hand movements during the game resolved the long-standing numerous disputes about his technique.

With Mark O’Leary representing the jazz-guitar cutting-edge, and Pat Martino currently in London representing the instrument’s state- of-the-art bebop persona, jazz-guitar legend Wes Montgomery seems to fit this week. Montgomery died young in 1967, having hidden his dazzling bop-improviser’s skills in the service of an early smooth-jazz. But this set represents Montgomery on his only European trip, recorded in Belgium, Germany and Britain with pianists Harold Mabern, Martial Solal and others.

The mellifluous lyricism and fondness for romantic ballads and soft Latin shuffles that characterised Montgomery even in his pre-pop days does slide into an easy-listening quality here and there, but classic swingers like Jingles, Coltrane’s Impressions and Full House (the latter recorded for BBC TV’s Jazz 625) catch the astonishing freedom and flow of the guitarist’s playing, and there’s a beautifully weighted account of Round Midnight.

A rendition of Blue Monk from the Hamburg session has a cavernously echoey, waywardly bleary single appearance from saxophonist Johnny Griffin and a superb solo from pianist Martial Solal. Though Montgomery sounds less breezily secure than usual on the four German takes, the rougher jam-session atmosphere adds an immediacy that is sometimes missing from Montgomery’s immaculate recordings. One for Wes buffs.

1. Intro / Yesterdays
2. Jingles
3. ‘Round Midnight
4. Twisted Blues
5. Full House / Outro

Recorded live at The BBC Studios on March 25th 1965.Includes the entire ‘Jazz 625’ BBC Radio broadcast.

MONTGOMERY,WES - Live At The Bbc Studios 1965 - Amazon.com Music

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