A Tribute to Wes Montgomery

Fabio Zeppetella

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A Tribute to Wes Montgomery Review

by Dave Nathan

Fortunately this "tribute" is to the Wes Montgomery of the organ trio days when he worked with organist Mel Rhyne and drummer Jimmy Cobb, and not to the period when Montgomery was associated with the smothering, syrupy orchestras of Don Sebesky and Claus Ogerman. The obvious risk of including an organ in a small group is that the instrument, with its huge sound, will drown out everything and everybody around it. That happened now and then on some of the Montgomery-Rhyne collaborations. On this album you can almost feel Emmanuel Bex straining to make sure he does not overwhelm Zeppetella's guitar. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes he doesn't. On "You Don't Know What Love Is," not only does he dominate, but his organ playing is saccharine to the point that it is reminiscent of the music heard in roller skating rinks.

Then there is "In Love in Vain" when the organ is punchy and staccato, meshing well with Zeppetella's sparse, plucked guitar. This offering is one of the highlights of the album. "Fried Pies," another fine cut, reprises the Montgomery-Rhyne version from the 1963 Boss Guitar release. The first third of the tune belongs to the organ, the second third to the Zeppetella's guitar, and they join for the remaining chorus. In contrast, "Someone to Watch Over Me" is done in such a slow tempo that the performance drags. But the session ends on a rousing, swinging note with the playing of Montgomery's "Somethin' Like Bags," on which everybody lets loose. The inconsistency of the playing and arrangements on this album notwithstanding, it is another good effort by fine jazz musicians from Italy in which that country seems to abound. Wes Montgomery would not be embarrassed by this endeavor to pay him homage.

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