Jazz Icons: Wes Montgomery – Live in ’65 DVD

Jazz Icons Wes Montgomery Live in '65 DVD Cover Art

Ah, Wes Montgomery. You always made it look so easy, and yet your playing was so complex and beautiful it truly boggles the mind.

Wes Montgomery was arguably one of the greatest, most gifted and talented guitar players ever to grace history and yet, up until now, no video footage has ever been made available to the public. That has all changed with Jazz Icons: Wes Montgomery Live in ’65 and we should all be eternally grateful that some European public broadcasters had the good sense to film this incredible material.

Wes Montgomery Live in ’65 features three different performances, from three different European countries, during Wes’ spring tour of 1965.  These performances are wonderful insights into the months leading up to recording the legendary Smokin’ at the Half Note with the Wynton Kelly Trio in December.

The disc opens with a performance in Holland with a “pick up” band (not his normal touring band) featuring legendary Dutch drummer Han Bennink. After a short conversation between Wes and the piano player they immediately kick into a fantastic little blues number titled “I Love Blues.” Within just a few short moments we are treated to some wonderful close-ups of Wes’ fretting hand, clearing showing his astonishing technique that makes it look oh so easy. We also see an exuberant, smiling Wes who seems to be having the time of his life up there with his Dutch cohorts as they jam along without a care in the world. The band cooks throughout and the interplay between the musicians belies their short time together as a band.

The next performance, this time in Belgium, kicks things off right away with a stunning version of “Impressions.” The band, which features his regular touring ensemble, wastes no time in getting down to business. Where the Holland material was light, and almost dreamy, the band here is more at ease and ready to fully support Wes in bringing the house down. His playing here is stellar, made all the more astounding by being able to see him move up and down that fretboard with ease.

Wes Montgomery Live in '65 DVD Disc Art

The band tackles a beautiful, introspective version of “Here’s That Rainy Day” that serves as perfect counterpoint to an absolutely smoking version of “Jingles.” Wes, and the band for that matter, is on fire and their dexterity in the complex material, and the pace at which they take it, is astounding; tight as a drum and never once wavering. Things close with a wonderful version of “Boy Next Door” that features some of Wes’ trademark lyrical and melodic playing.

The final segment comes from England and although the band may not gel quite as well as the others, the great set list more than makes up for it featuring fantastic versions of “Four on Six,” “Full House,” and “Twisted Blues.” There is also an excellent version of “West Coast Blues” played solely by Wes and features some wonderful over the shoulder camera work.

Jazz Icons: Wes Montgomery Live in ’65 is an essential release that features excellent sound, and some truly stunning camera work. It gathers together superb performances of one of the greatest jazz guitarists of all time and is presented with great care and attention to detail. If you’ve ever wondered what all the talk about Wes Montgomery was this would be an excellent starting point for both jazz fans and music fans in general.

Tracklist

  1. “I Love Blues”
  2. “Nica’s Dream”
  3. “Love Affair” Rehearsal
  4. “The End Of A Love Affair”
  5. “Impressions”
  6. “Twisted Blues”
  7. “Here’s That Rainy Day”
  8. “Jingles”
  9. “Boy Next Door”
  10. “Four On Six”
  11. “Full House”
  12. “Here’s That Rainy Day”
  13. “Twisted Blues”
  14. “West Coast Blues”

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