Milt Jackson and Wes Montgomery - Bags Meets Wes!


Release date: December 18th 1961

Re-release date (Keepnews Edition): March 4th 2008

Availabilty: CD, MP3 download, iTunes

Bags Meets Wes cover

Backed by an excellent rhythm section (Wynton Kelly on piano, Sam Jones on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums), this 1961 session sparkles with straight ahead, blues based jazz at its best. The cool approach favoured in Milt Jackson's vibe playing (he was headlining in the Modern Jazz Quartet at the time) and Wes Montgomery's ebullient approach to guitar could have resulted in the kind of mismatch that so often happens when two jazz greats are brought together, but here the rapport between them is seemingly instantaneous.

The opener "SKJ", written by Milt Jackson for his wife Sandra, sets the pace by showing that, though much used, 12 bar blues can be still be a potent vehicle for memorable jazz. Wes Montgomery's guitar sound is so lithe and slithery that you have to imagine those guitar strings being slack, slack, slack. Two further 12 bar blues, "Sam Sack" and "Blue Roz," are just as successful.

"Stairway to the Stars", the Matt Malneck/ Frank Signorelli standard, is unashamedly played as a deeply romantic ballad while Benny Golson's "Stablemates" and the Victor Young standard "Delilah" feature as vehicles for high energy, uptempo bop. The single Wes Montgomery composition is "Jingles" which became one of his hallmark songs.

There are alternate takes of "Stairway to the Stars", "Jingles" and "Delilah" which are more than just retakes.

The only disappointment is the cover illustration which shows two old men in overcoats and hats, an image that could not be further removed from the energy and creativity that fires this great music.

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To preview and purchase "Bags Meets Wes! " at iTunes Store:

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Milt Jackson & Wes Montgomery - Keepnews Collection: Bags Meets Wes

Bret Primack's video for Concord Records interviewing Orrin Keepnews on "Bags Mets Wes"

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