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Impressions: Verve Jazz Sides
Wes Montgomery
Impressions: Verve Jazz Sides
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Guitarist Wes Montgomery grew up in a musical family with brothers Monk (bass) and Buddy (piano/vibes). All three musicians were self-taught, and recorded together as the Montgomery Brothers, but Wes would go on to the gre...  more »


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All Artists: Wes Montgomery
Title: Impressions: Verve Jazz Sides
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Polygram Records
Original Release Date: 4/18/1995
Release Date: 4/18/1995
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Soul-Jazz & Boogaloo, Bebop
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 731452169020, 0731452169020, 073145216902

Guitarist Wes Montgomery grew up in a musical family with brothers Monk (bass) and Buddy (piano/vibes). All three musicians were self-taught, and recorded together as the Montgomery Brothers, but Wes would go on to the greatest success. The guitarist had crossed over to pop by the time of his death, after a heart attack, at age 43. The Verve material collects later Montgomery sides, one disc of OK studio recordings with sidemen including Jerome Richardson, Phil Woods, and Danny Bank on various wind instruments, and Donald Byrd, Ernie Royal, Snooky Young, and Joe Newman on trumpets. The second CD is the keeper, the complete Smokin' at the Half Note sessions with the Wynton Kelly trio. --John Swenson

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CD Reviews

The best version of "Smokin' at the Half Note" and more
Josh Dougherty | Philadelphia | 12/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First, I must say that this 2cd set is the absolute best introduction for anyone interested in traditional jazz guitar itself or Wes Montgomery, one of its greatest practitioners. This 2cd set contains all of the album "Smokin' at the Half Note" (on disc #2) which is, in my opinion, the best live Wes Montgomery album. It also contains bonus tracks from that session, which are NOT available on the single cd, or anywhere else to my knowledge.In addition, the first disc contains a varied sampling of Wes Montgomery's studio recordings on the Verve label. Some people contend that many of Wes' studio recordings went somewhat commercial during his Verve period and are therfore not quite as good as his earlier recordings.I agree.But, his studio recordings, even in this period, are not bad at all, and in fact, the ones offered in this set are quite good. The first disc offers a sampling of small group recordings and big band recordings, all of which are very good and offer some of the best from this period.I belive Wes' earlier Riverside recordings are his best "straight ahead" jazz recordings overall, but the selections on the first disc of this set are really the best of his later studio recordings. They're definitely worth a listen, and I really feel it offers the very best selection of Wes' Verve studio recordings.But, again, the jewel of this set is disc #2. On this disc you get ALL of Wes' best live album "Smokin' at the Half Note", AND you get quite a few great bonus cuts from this live session. Particularly great is the short but smokin' version of John Coltrane's "Impressions", not available on other releases.I've been a fan of Wes for a few years now, and I can thoroughly recommend this 2cd set to anyone interested in checking out this great guitarist. I'm also a guitarist myself and have been influenced by Wes quite a bit. I have a webpage of my own where you can hear a ballad influenced by Wes Montgomery's version of "Polka Dots and Moonbeams", played in Wes' key.Sorry for what probably seems like a shameless plug, but I hope it will help people realize that I know what I'm talking about and care what I'm talking about when I say, this is the set you want to get if you really want to hear some great Wes Montgomery. If you wind up loving this set as I do, then you'd want to also try some of Wes Montgomery's Riverside recordings. Or, if you wind up REALLY loving it, you might want to make a commitment to the 12cd Riverside box set.In any case, get this 2cd set and get into Wes. You will not regret it.Josh"
Good Overview, and Thank God For The Full "Smokin'" Sides
BluesDuke | Las Vegas, Nevada | 07/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Wes Montgomery had one very good reason for letting Verve move him toward a more orchestral pop delivery of jazz beginning in 1964: he had a sizeable family to feed and, like it or not, pure jazz just didn't pay the bills any longer. That didn't prevent him from producing some incandescent music regardless, if only because his playing style was so complete, so personal, and so incapable of shunting emotion to the side, that he transcended the sometimes syrupy arrangements through which he had to navigate. In the end, he really didn't compromise too much of his soul, and if you consider just how sappy most of what came to be called MOR (middle of the road) in the mid-1960s had already been, Montgomery's odd union of MOR and jazz was really a refreshment.Still, Verve didn't imprison him entirely - Montgomery got plentiful chances to blow, and blow he could and did. And here's the prime samplings of those blowings in the Verve/A & M years in one very powerful introduction. (You'll be tempted, once you've been hit between the eyes by the bristling lyricism with which he attacks "Caravan," to seek out the album from whence it came, the broodingly joyous "Movin' Wes".) The real treat: the complete recordings from the dates with the Wynton Kelly Trio that produced the remarkable "Smokin' At The Half Note". Montgomery and the Kelly unit play as though they were made for each other, the rhythm section almost galloping their way through the sets as Montgomery and Kelly play like a pair of long-lost soul brothers. If you're new to Wes Montgomery, here is a terrific place to begin. And once you do, don't be afraid to spend the money you're likely to spend on getting your hands on every one of his regulation albums. When Ralph J. Gleason said, memorably, "Make no mistake - Wes Montgomery is the best guitarist since Charlie Christian," he was proving himself the master of understatement. He wasn't just the best guitarist ever to hit jazz, he was the most pleasurable to listen to, not least of which reasons include the critical one: this man NEVER forgot the blues."
Super Jazz!
Ionescu Sorin Lucian | 10/15/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Pat Metheny calls this "the absolute greatest jazz guitar album ever made". And that's enough for me! Smokin' at the Half Note"