Wes Montgomery

Classics, Vol. 22: Wes Montgomery

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Unlike other greatest-hits collections of Wes Montgomery's A&M material, this one actually burrows into the vaults and comes up with five unreleased tracks -- all with small combos -- from the great guitarist's tragically brief final period. Aside from the unreleased goodies, this release is a fine single-CD survey that reveals for all with open ears just how good the music in Montgomery's' much-maligned A&M/CTI period really was. Almost all of the great jazzmen were superb melodists and Wes was one of the best; he could charm stones with the way he caresses and swings the pop hits of his day. But more than that, his improvised solos in octaves are concise, beautifully formed mature statements, each note perfectly placed and set in Don Sebesky's and Eumir Deodato's lovely orchestrations. Of the five new cuts, the Miriam Makeba hit "Pata Pata" strikes the most fire as Montgomery propulsively stretches out in octaves at some length and "Hello Young Lovers" offers a brilliantly fleet solo in 3/4 time. "My Favorite Things," which Wes referred to in his last interview just before his death, sounds unfinished; you can sense the spaces where the orchestra was probably supposed to come in. Still, any additional Montgomery music that we can get is worth hearing, especially in the final days when every note counted.

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