Eight Classic Albums

Wes Montgomery

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Eight Classic Albums Review

by Thom Jurek

Real Gone Jazz is doing its thing here with Wes Montgomery, presenting eight albums in a four-disc box for a budget price. That said, it is important to challenge the box's claim that states: "Digitally Remastered and Enhanced for Superior Quality." Maybe they are digitally remastered, but the question is, from what source? These transfers sound as though they are taken directly from vinyl -- the sound of a needle in the groove, or hitting a record's edge, is not an uncommon occurrence. The reason this is strange is that the masters for all of this music are readily available for license. Draw your own conclusions. The music here contains more than Montgomery's dates as a leader. The first disc in this box, dating from 1957 and here titled Fingerpickin', is actually a reissue, since the original album was released as The Montgomery Brothers Plus Five Others on World Pacific. The second album on disc one is by the Wes Montgomery Trio (his sidemen were organist Mel Rhyne and drummer Paul Parker); it features his first stellar rendition of "'Round Midnight." Disc two contains a pair of albums from 1960, The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery with pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Percy Heath, and drummer Albert Heath. The latter half is actually saxophonist Harold Land's West Coast Blues album, which places Montgomery in a sextet that included trumpeter Joe Gordon, pianist Barry Harris, bassist Sam Jones, and drummer Louis Hayes. Disc three features the 1960 album Movin' Along, a quintet date that retains Jones and Hayes with Victor Feldman on piano and James Clay on tenor and flute. The latter half of the disc is a Montgomery Brothers session from 1961 that was released alternately as Groove Brothers and Groove Yard. The final platter contains two 1961 recordings: the first is So Much Guitar; its lineup includes pianist Hank Jones, bassist Ron Carter, drummer Lex Humphries, and conguero Ray Barretto. The final date is the famed George Shearing with the Montgomery Brothers, with Walter Perkins on drums. All of the music contained here is solid; a couple of these dates are actually quite exceptional. It's true that most -- if not all -- of these recordings are available separately with better sound; but if you're not terribly picky about it, given the price tag, this box is a decent way to fill in holes in a Montgomery collection.

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