Creed Taylor matched two of his most famous artists, Wes Montgomery and Jimmy Smith, on this session (Montgomery's last for Verve), and the results are incendiary -- a near-ideal meeting of yin and yang. Smith comes at your throat with his big attacks and blues runs while Montgomery responds with rounder, smoother octaves and single notes that still convey much heat. They are an amazing pair, complementing each other, driving each other, using their bop and blues taproots to fuse together a sound. The romping, aggressive big band charts -- Oliver Nelson at his best -- on "Down by the Riverside" and "Night Train," and the pungently haunting chart for Gary McFarland's "13" (Death March)" still leave plenty of room for the soloists to stretch out. "James and Wes" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside" include drummer Grady Tate and conguero Ray Barretto, with Smith's own feet working the organ pedals. The Verve Master Edition reissue also includes an alternate take of "O.G.D." with Tate and Barretto, a track previously surfacing on a long-gone Encyclopedia of Jazz anthology LP from the '60s -- a neat bonus that makes this the preferred version.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell