Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery - one of the seminal figures in Jazz Guitar playing.

Wes Montgomery In Session With The NDR Big Band, Hamburg – 1965 -Past Daily Downbeat

Wes Montgomery
Wes Montgomery – one of the seminal figures in Jazz Guitar playing.

Wes Montgomery with The NDR Big Band – In Session – April 28, 1965 – North German Radio, Hamburg – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Wes Montgomery this weekend. One of the seminal figures in Jazz guitar, who pioneered the genre of Smooth Jazz and did a lot to introduce non-Jazz audiences to Jazz.

I ran another Montgomery/MDR Big Band post a few years ago. That one, I believe was the end result of this session. The broadcast date on that was April 30, 1965 and this session comes from April 28, 1965. So logic would dictate . . .

In any event, this is the raw session, with false starts and conversation between numbers. As is always the case with these sessions, there’s two schools of thought; one is only the “circled takes” should be listened to, and the other is that everything should be listened to and absorbed – even if it means there are 30 takes of something. Depending on what your listening habits are, they are both valid points. Certainly in Pop music, listening to endless takes can be frustrating especially if there is no really discernible difference between take 1 and take 21. Jazz; it’s a different story – things happen, ideas spring forth from mistakes, a number is sculpted and developed during the course of a session and it’s an interesting series of events that lead to the end result. Sometimes it misses the mark, and sometimes it’s pivotal.

In the case of Wes Montgomery, anything he did sparked interest – he was an artist of many moods – and even though during this point (1965) he was heading into more Pop territory, he was still true to his roots as is evidenced by working with this top-notch German big band. Sadly, Wes Montgomery died only three years after this session – at the time, he was riding a wave of mainstream success and his influence was spreading far and wide. You can always go crazy pondering the “what if’s”.

He left behind a body of vital and essential music to absorb – and that’s enough to keep you going a good long time.


An update: thanks to Charles Tomaras and the NDR Big Band Facebook page – I got this clarification on the session and the session personnel – this is great stuff!
Koller, Hans (as)
Griffin, Johnny (ts)
Scott, Ronnie (ts)
Ross, Ronnie (bs)
Solal, Martial (p)
Montgomery, Wes (g)
Gaudry, Michel (b)
Stephenson, Ronnie (dr)

As always, information like this is essential and much appreciated in the grand historic scheme of things!

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