Most jazz guitar aficionados agree that Wes Montgomery delivered his finest recordings between 1959 and 1963, when he was signed to the Riverside label. During this period, he made records as a bandleader in a variety of formats, including string orchestras and organ trios, but critics feel that he shined brightest when accompanied by a small rhythm section, like the group of musicians that accompanied him on his So Much Guitar! album.
Recorded in August 1961, So Much Guitar! finds Montgomery in the company of Hank Jones on piano, Lex Humphries on drums, Ray Baretto on congas, and a young Ron Carter on bass, making one of the earliest appearances in his prolific career as a studio session musician. Living up to its title, So Much Guitar! features Montgomery’s fleet-fingered soloing, soulful melodic excursions, and signature unison-octave lines as the focal point of songs that include “Twisted Blues,” the Duke Ellington covers “Cotton Tail” and “I’m Just a Lucky So and So,” “Repetition,” and his unaccompanied solo performance of “While We’re Young.”
Concord Music Group has released a newly remastered version of this historic Wes Montgomery album, which many critics consider one of the jazz legend’s finest efforts. Featuring 24-bit remastering by Joe Tarrantino and new liner notes along with the original liner notes written by producer Orrin Keepnews, the new reissue also offers an entire album’s worth of bonus tracks recorded in early 1961 during Montgomery’s live performance at the Cellar in Vancouver, British Columbia, previously issued on the rare live album The Montgomery Brothers in Canada.
The remastering presents the performances in warm, lively detail that sounds as fresh as it did the day Montgomery and company recorded it, making this new reissue essential for Wes Montgomery fans and jazz guitar collectors alike. — Chris Gill