Wes Montgomery

Complete Live in Paris 1965

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Wes Montgomery's 1965 concert at the Theatre des Champs Elysees in Paris is one of the greatest live dates ever recorded from the decade. Here, Montgomery, pianist Harold Mabern, drummer Jimmy Lovelace, bassist Arthur Harper, and saxophonist Johnny Griffin -- who guested on three selections at the end of the gig -- tore the City of Light apart with an elegant yet raw and immediate jazz of incomparable musicianship and communication. Montgomery was literally on fire and Mabern has never, ever been heard better on record. From the opening bars of "Four on Six," Montgomery is playing full-on, doing a long solo entirely based on chord voicings that is as stellar as any plectrum solo he ever recorded. Mabern's ostinato and legato phrasing is not only blinding in speed, but completely gorgeous in its melodic counterpoint. And while the bop and hard bop phrasing here is in abundance, Montgomery does not leave the funk behind. It's as if he never played with George Shearing, so aggressive is his playing here. Nowhere is this more evident than in the tonal inquiry that goes on in the band's read of John Coltrane's "Impressions," in which the entire harmonic palette is required by Montgomery's series of staggered intervals and architectural peaks in the restructuring of the head. Likewise, in Griffin Montgomery finds a worthy foil on "'Round Midnight" and the medley of "Blue and Boogie/West Coast Blues." Montgomery assumes the contrapuntal role as Mabern floods the bottom with rich, bright chords and killer vamps in the choruses. Highly recommended.

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