Friday, October 3, 2008

Wes Montgomery: Live In '65 DVD. Complete Live In Paris 1965 CD Set.

Wes Montgomery: Live In '65 DVD. Complete Live In Paris 1965 CD Set.
Antonio G. Pereira © 2008 Antonio G. Pereira

The DVD, Wes Montgomery: Live In '65, released by Jazz Icons (Reelin' in the Years Productions), is a marvelous collection of archival footage of Wes Montgomery's television appearances in Europe; during his 1965 tour. You see him speaking and directing the other musicians, and playing wonderfully. The liner notes, by guitarist Pat Metheny, are pretty above average, informed, delightful to read, and not full of the know' it' all (which is actually I ' know ' nothing at all) school of thought, that usually inundates liner notes these days. You can actually feel Pat Metheny's awe and admiration for Wes Montgomery, and what he accomplished in his lifetime; all through the liner notes in the booklet accompanying the DVD. There are also additional notes by Wes Montgomery's wife Serene (for whom he composed that gorgeously touching instrumental, Serene, on his last album for A&M, Road Song), his grandson, actor Anthony Montgomery, and the wonderful guitarist and composer Carlos Santana. The DVD consists of Wes Montgomery's television appearances in Holland, Belgium and England. You see and hear Wes playing masterfully on extended Jazz compostions, that are covers, and his own originals, from his albums. And the delight of the musicians is very evident. This whole set is beautifully presented, and worth every cent.

An additional note: Wes made an appearance on The Joe Franklin Show (or was it Irv Kupcinet?) on WOR Channel 9, in New York, sometime during the mid-sixties. I wonder where THAT footage is? And why none of the 'Jazz Historians' or 'Jazz Experts', have mentioned it?

The Complete Live In Paris 1965 CD Set, Definitive Records (Spain) , was originally released as 2 volumes on LP, back in 1981; but only in Europe. That is also the case here. So until some enterprising American Record Conglomerate (we rarely use the term 'Record Company' anymore), decides to release it here, this 2 CD Set can only be obtained (with some difficulty), as an import. The liner notes are passable, but not particularly informed. The recordings however, are pristine, and stunning in clarity. This is Wes Montgomery Live In Concert, recorded during his 1965 European Tour (the only time he ventured outside of the United States to perform). He is backed by Harold Mabern on Piano, Arthur Harper on Bass, and Jimmy Lovelace on Drums; who were his (at the time), usual backing band, and also backed him on the Belgium recordings on the DVD. This is a tight ensemble, and the improvisation is effortless, with endless virtuosity. They are joined on the last three numbers by the exceptional Saxophonist, Johnny Griffin (who also played with Wes on the Live At Tsubo Coffee House in San Francisco recording, for Riverside Records), who happened to be in Paris at the same time. (Griffin, by the way, gave a very enlightening interview many years ago. You can read it here: He and Wes revisit some of the songs from the Live At Tsubo San Francisco recordings, plus Thelonious Monk's, 'Round About Midnight, and really do them justice. This is a wonderful Live In Concert recording. Highly Recommended!

Now a word about the subject of Liner Notes. As of late, I continually see the same 'generalities' repeated over and over again. (i.e. Wes' critics and fans didn't like his Verve period, and thought he 'sold out'.) Well, aside from the obvious drones copying each other (God knows where this trail would lead to, as to where this misinformation originated from), who repeatedly single out only Smokin' At The Half Note, and occasionally his work with Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery made some extraordinary studio recordings at Verve. For example, his recording of 'Chim Chim Cheree', from the movie Mary Poppins, where he really stretched out on some of the best Jazz Guitar soloing of his career; playing chorus after chorus. (Arranged by the exceptionally talented Oliver Nelson, who worked with Wes quite often, and whose arrangement of Goin' Out Of My Head, {the title song of the album} earned Wes a Grammy. Oliver Nelson, by the way, also composed some of the music score for the television show, Ironside; along with Quincy Jones. {To get a real taste of Mr. Nelson's boundless talent, check out the CD, Oliver Nelson's Big Band. Live From Los Angeles. On Impulse Records.}) Another example is Montgomery's beautifully melancholy, almost 6 minute reading of Joe Zawinul's, Midnight Mood, on the album Tequila. There are just so many other examples that could be cited, and they are as plain to see as the nose on one's face. There is simply no excuse for such poor, lazy researching and cursory acknowledgement of someone so important in the history of American Music, in this country.

1 comment:

Claire said...

Thanks for sharing your love and awesome knowledge of music.