Verve Jazz Masters 14
Shedding the temptation of bop purist revisionism that creeps into most assessments of Wes Montgomery, this Jazz Masters volume gives newcomers a good cross-section of his Verve recordings, the orchestral Wes along with the small-group Wes. The sequencing, though out of chronological order, is quite clever and musical. Someone who has never heard Montgomery before will be drawn in most enticingly with Wes' brief yet unforgettably catchy hit with Oliver Nelson, "Goin' Out of My Head." That is followed by the burnin' "Impressions" with the Wynton Kelly Trio live at the Half Note, which in turn gives way to a luscious Bumpin' outtake with strings, "My One and Only Love," the Latin-grooving "Tequila"...and the sequence rolls on smoothly and with considerable diversity from there. There are omissions — nothing from the two albums with Jimmy Smith, nothing from the A&M catalog (which Verve's parent corporation PolyGram owns and could have easily drawn from). But one can still get an idea of how Wes's awesome technical facilities and magical melodic touch dazzled the musicians and wooed the general public of his time. If you don't watch yourself, buying this CD might lead to a full-blown Wes addiction.
by Richard S. Ginell