Wes Montgomery’s Secret Sauce

“The great Wes Montgomery often harmonized his solos with ‘block chords,’” wrote Norah Jones guitarist and former GP staffer Adam Levy in the May ’99 GP. “He shadowed his single-note lines with three- or four-voice chords. And not just on ballads—he could let the chords fly at breakneck tempos just as easily.” Levy provided this hip chord-melody phrase as an example. The original melody line suggests Gm7, and occurs entirely on the high-E string, but has, as you can see, been fleshed out in four-part harmony. The key ingredient in this chordal gravy is the diminished 7th chords. Says Levy, “Use them to harmonize the non-Gm7 tones in the melody—A, C, Eb, and F#.”