Wes Montgomery - Wes Montgomery Live in '65

Jazz Icons

Release date: September 4th, 2007

Recorded in Holland, Belgium and UK in 1965

 Wes Montgomery Live in '65


Holland 1965

Wes Montgomery (Guitar)
Pim Jacobs (Piano)
Ruud Jacobs (Bass)
Han Bennink (Drums)

Belgium 1965

Wes Montgomery (Guitar)
Arthur Harper (Bass)
Harold Mabern (Piano)
Jimmy Lovelace (Drums)

UK 1965

Wes Montgomery (Guitar)
Rick Laird (Bass)
Stan Tracey (Piano)
Jackie Dougan (Drums)


Holland: I Love Blues, Nica’s Dream, Love Affair (Rehearsal), The End Of A Love Affair
Belgium: Impressions, Twisted Blues, Here’s That Rainy Day, Jingles, Boy Next Door
England: Four On Six, Full House, Here’s That Rainy Day, Twisted Blues, West Coast Blues


The fact that just about all of the Jazz Icons material comes from made for TV footage shot in Europe says much about how little valued jazz and its key performers were in the United States up to fairly recent times. Much of what has been described as America's only truly indigenous art form remained visually largely undocumented in its own land. And while the "Reelin' In The Years" team have done a good job in tracking down and restoring the mainly European shot for TV footage – without this we would have almost nothing in any decent quality of these jazz greats in performance – the problems of top performers playing with pick up bands is unavoidable.

This is at its most apparent in this Wes Montgomery material. Only the second strand filmed in Belgium - where the great guitarist is backed by musicians of substance such as Harold Mabern and Jimmy Lovelace - does justice to Wes Montgomery's true artistry. The first and third strands (shot in Holland and the UK with pick up bands) show a little of the great man's presence but are now mainly of interest as the social documents that they now are.

So to take the great jazz first………

The Belgium 1965 session features a truly memorable version of John Coltrane's "Impressions" translated to guitar and fine versions of "Twisted Blues" (from "Full House" and "So Much Guitar!'), "Here’s That Rainy Day", "Jingles" (from "Bags Meets Wes") and "Boy Next Door", material that is close to the core of Wes Montgomery's greatest contribution to the language of jazz guitar. Harold Mabern (notable for his recent work with Eric Alexander) provides subtle and wholly sympathetic piano while the rest of the band outperforms. You can only marvel at Wes Montgomery's complete fluency on his instrument, the ease with which he navigates his way through the most difficult changes.

The England 1965 session is taken from an episode of a long forgotten arts programme "Tempo" which ran from 1961 – 1967 and was commercial TV's attempt to rival the BBC arts show "Monitor". (Most notably "Tempo" was at one time hosted by Kenneth Tynan, known for his hostile views on John Coltrane's later music). This episode is titled: "Boss Guitar: The Art of Wes Montgomery". After a brief general introduction, David Mahlowe hands over to Ronnie Scott to introduce each piece as Wes Montogmery plays good versions of "Four On Six", "Full House", "Here’s That Rainy Day", "Twisted Blues" and "West Coast Blues".

The objection to the opening strand of the DVD shot in Holland is mainly the dress sense of the backing band. No-one should have been allowed to wear short sleeved sweaters like those and present that as jazz!

In truth, the back up bands in the Holland and UK segments are only just this side of adequate, with the UK segment band especially weak. Nonetheless, Wes Montogmery is generous to a fault, turning the Holland session into a masterclass for the band and here, as in the England session, giving full solo chances to all concerned while still playing some worthwhile licks of his own.

There are interesting liner notes to the DVD package from Pat Metheny. He points to the very clear shots of Wes Montgomery's impressive thumb technique in the "Tempo" section which even pick up the normally hard to spot "back flip".

Overall, this is an interesting and rewarding collection of footage by one of the greatest jazz guitarists.

Star Rating ***

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