holst's the planets

#46 – The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery

Karl, Scott, and Trent explore two seminal albums in the catalog of arguably the greatest jazz guitarist of all time, Wes Montgomery. In Incredible Jazz Guitar and Boss Guitar, Montgomery lays down an adventurous blend of hard-swinging bop, romantic ballads, and Afro-Carribean-inspired grooves with an effortless mastery of guitar technique.

Although he employs a wide variety of complex techniques such as fast triplet strumming, sweep picking, and octave melodies — almost exclusively performed with his thumb — Montgomery never comes across as pretentious or heady. He’s a generous soloist for the audience, creating plenty of space and pauses to give listeners a chance to absorb and digest his playing. He frequently quotes and reworks melodies from popular tunes of the American songbook, and in the latter part of his career he performed jazz covers of contemporary hits as well.

Wes’ life was cut short early (he died of a heart attack at 45), but he left a huge mark on jazz history. His work was influential to jazz guitarists such as Joe Pass, George Benson, and many, many others. It remains fresh, too, and an easy entry point into the world of jazz for new listeners.

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