There are lots of best of Wes compilations on the market, but this one has to rank as the earliest as far as sources go, and the skimpiest as far as the packaging goes. No booklet notes, no recording dates, no personnel, no timings, 42 minutes of music from ten tracks -- we're lucky that they even bother to list the tracks on the back of the box. Since CEMA won't enlighten you, let it be known that Wes wasn't even the leader on these late-'50s sessions for Pacific Jazz. Rather, at this stage of his life, he was playing with his brothers Monk and Buddy in the Mastersounds and the Montgomery Brothers bands, with guests like tenor saxophonist Harold Land, trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, drummers Louis Hayes, Paul Parker and Tony Bazley. Of course, Wes sounds effortlessly fluent even at this juncture in an evenly-split program of hard-bop treatments of standards and several sturdy Wes originals like "Renie," "Hymn For Carl," "Wes's Tune," and "Montgomeryland Funk." The remastering is very good, mellower than the old Blue Note anthology Beginnings ("Stompin' At The Savoy" has some tape dropouts), so this CD does have some bargain-level appeal.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell