A South-Of-The-Border SHOT OF WES (Lime Wedge Optional)
STEPHEN T. McCARTHY | a Mensa-donkey in Phoenix, Airheadzona. | 05/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've never understood those so-called "purists" who raise a ruckus with shouts of "SELL OUT!" and "INAUTHENTIC!" as soon as a musician sails into previously uncharted waters. They called out the dogs when Richard Carpenter closed out 'GOODBYE TO LOVE' with a loud fuzz guitar solo. (He was later credited with having invented the "power ballad" formula with this blasphemy!) They were ready to crucify Bob Dylan when he started singing about Jesus with SLOW TRAIN COMING. (Never mind that it happened to be the freshest, most exciting and heartfelt music he'd created in years!) When WES MONTGOMERY allowed his innovative Jazz guitar style to explore modern Pop pieces, his fans began to abandon ship in droves. And when he went so far as to...(dare I even say it?)...add a dollop of strings on the TEQUILA set, they were ready to torpedo his boat themselves. He had "sold out" they said. Sold out to what? I'll tell you : MORE great music!
In the informative booklet notes, Montgomery's fellow Jazz guitarist, Steve Khan writes, "Like most Jazz fans, I prefer albums on which the tracks are timed at six minutes or more; anything less than that usually means limited space for improvising. But perhaps looking at the art of recording only in this manner causes one to miss works of extraordinary beauty and grace. TEQUILA is just such a recording." Khan later (courageously?) confesses that 'MIDNIGHT MOOD' is "one of the most beautiful pieces Montgomery ever recorded." Here's a person mature enough to realize that great music is great music, at six minutes, or less; with or without strings. It just so happens that my favorite track here is probably 'LITTLE CHILD (DADDY DEAR)', the shortest at just two and a half minutes, WITH strings (which only enhances the moving, melancholic melody.)
TEQUILA has a slightly Latinized feel to it, thanks to the title track, the inclusion of Antonio Carlos Jobim's classic, 'INSENSATEZ (HOW INSENSITIVE)', and especially the conga playing of Ray Barretto on half of the tracks. But make no mistake about it, this is genuine Jazz - there's Grady Tate on drums and the legendary Ron Carter on the stand-up bass (love that rhythmic "thumping" on 'WIVES AND LOVERS', which stays with me for hours!) This is wonderful stuff, and the sparingly used Claus Ogerman strings do not detract from the mood, but highlight it. As if all that wasn't enough, TEQUILA sports one of the coolest Jazz album covers ever conceived (right up there with Metheny's, AMERICAN GARAGE.)
WES MONTGOMERY was one of the most influential guitarists in the world of Jazz. By all accounts, he was a very classy and humble man. He certainly had good taste and knew good music. His musicianship elevated everything he played; transforming even minor Pop hits into compelling masterpieces. So smooth he was, but never sleepy! And this set is no exception. So what if this isn't Wes Montgomery poured straight from the bottle? Some folks like to add orange juice to their liquor and call it a Tequila Sunrise. Others prefer a mixture of lime juice and salt. They call that a Margarita. On TEQUILA, Wes didn't pour his guitar straight from the bottle, but stirred in some congas and some strings. It doesn't matter because, in short : if it says "WES MONTGOMERY" on the label, you can be sure that it's a damn fine drink. Uhm...no...that's not right. I mean, if it says "Wes Montgomery" on the COVER, you can be sure that it's damn fine music. Yeah, that's it...damn fine MUSIC! "
Music like good Tequila
6XERVANTES | Dortmund, Ruhr Valley, Germany | 11/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For years, for decades, Wes's Verve records have been criticized by so-called jazz purists. Praising his Riverside output, they didn't come to grasp with the fact that what Wes did on Verve was FUSION, in the truest sense of the word. I prefer this masterpiece of laconic, sparse, deceptively simple guitar music to the tinny and sometimes tedious sounds he released on Riverside. Just one telling example: take the title track, on which he turns the Champs' pop instrumental into a stark, dynamic masterpiece. The band are excellent, too: the combination drums - congas (played by the Great Barretto himself!)works out splendidly.Best US jazz guitar album ever?"
Every time ...
Jazzcat | Genoa, Italy Italy | 12/31/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Every time I put a Wes record in my player I have to write a review here on Amazon. I have to say to the world how big was Wes talent and artistry. I have to shout out loud how much I love Wes music and how much I dig his improvisational skills and personality. I'm saying that Wes even if he's respected everywhere in the world actually he is still incredibly underrated. Every cat can tell you how big was Trane, Bill Evans or Miles and I obviously agree, don't get me wrong. But Wes? Can we talk a little bit about WES??? It seems that almost only guitarists consider him as he should be considered as one the overall best jazzmen of all times. I mean in the first best five probably. His musicality was a marvel from mother nature!!! His music has always been intense, deep, groovin and entertaining something you can't say of every cat's music ... His solos are incedibly touching, challenging and light years ahead. I mean, really no guitar player has ever come near Wes artistry except maybe George Benson but only in few occasions. Tequila is a favourite of mine in Wes's discography. It is one of the albums in which Wes had the best sound, full, big, touching, surrounding. The program is very very nice, 100% Wes. I mean, I love Riverside albums too obviously, but Verve's material is enormously underrated. verve's album contains some of the best Wes music ever. Insensatez, What the world, all the tunes contained in Verve albums are Wes unforgettable interpretations believe me. I'm listening to this album now for the thousand time, trying to imagine Wes playing with his thumb and smiling and enjoying music and the art of improvisation ... I mean, Wes. W-E-S !!! Every time I'm into another player that I love and listen to Wes I immediatly become again a Wes addicted because his music is .... special. Every time I play a Wes record I think that never ever will be another talent like him. And that there never has been. That will never be better music .. Let me say this. Wes has been one of the greatest music talents ever, together with Bird and few more. I really don't think I'm exaggerating .. Oh Wes !!!!!!"
Standard Montgomery Verve
6XERVANTES | 01/04/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a fan of Wes's Verve sessions, this is another one to add to your collection. For those who know Wes only as a be-bop guitarist, this album might surprise you. This album has never been critically acclaimed (and I do find it a bit uneven in quality) but for my money, the greatest guitar solo I've ever heard on a jazz record is on his version of "What the World Needs Now." I've actually never heard this CD--I own the LP, so I'm only commenting on the music itself."