Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pat Metheny

Guitarist Pat Metheny has managed to successfully walk the line between innovation and broad-based appeal more than three decades. His accessible jazz albums have earned him and his Pat Metheny Group some 16 Grammy awards (out of 29 nominations), more than any other jazz musician. Not easily classifiable, his music reflects a mellow-sounding experimental journey into the worlds of jazz fusion, folk, rock, new age, and pop. First attaining popularity in the 1980s, he is credited with helping to popularize jazz among baby boomers raised on pop and rock music.

Metheny was born Patrick Bruce Metheny on August 12, 1954, in Lee's Summit, Missouri. Faced with the slow-paced, small-town life and scarce access to television, Metheny and his family found entertainment in music. Following in the steps of his older brother, a trumpet player, Metheny by age eight was learning to play the trumpet, and as a result learning to read and write music. His interest in pop groups like the Beatles and the Beach Boys, was soon overshadowed by early and immediate interest in jazz music. He quickly delved into the world of jazz, quickly learning pieces by greats like Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman, all without a formal music teacher. He received his first guitar at age ten, and by the age of twelve he would abandon the trumpet for what would become his trademark instrument. Metheny soon found his calling playing with Kansas City jazz musicians. Such was his local fame that, when Herbie Hancock came to town, he reportedly sought out the 16-year-old Metheny to jam with him.

Upon graduating from Kansas City High School in 1972, Metheny went on to attend the University of Miami. Just as student and social obligations had taken a backseat to music in high school, Metheny's dedication to music led him to drop out of university's student body to form part of its faculty. At the age of 18, he was teaching electric guitar at the school. In 1974, he was invited to teach music at Boston's Berklee College of Music (which would award him an honorary doctorate degree in music in 1996). While brief, Metheny's stay at the University of Miami allowed him to meet jazzman Jaco Pastorius, who would go on to be a fundamental force in his early years as a musician. It was with Pastorius, along with jazz pianist Paul Bley, who joined Metheny to recording a 1974 album that would be Metheny's first.

1974 was the year of Metheny's big break into the world jazz scene. From 1974 to 1977, he lent his playing style to the band of vibraphone artist Gary Burton. According to Metheny's website biography, this style entails blending "the loose and flexible articulation customarily reserved for horn players with an advanced rhythmic and harmonic sensibility—a way of playing and improvising that was modern in conception but grounded deeply in the jazz tradition of melody, swing, and the blues." Following the recording of Ring, recorded with Burton and Eberhard Weber, Metheny released his first solo album. With the release of Bright Size Life in 1975, Metheny is credited with reinventing jazz guitar for a new generation. That album marked the beginning of a ten-year relationship with the ECM record label, for which Metheny played to sold-out crowds as the company's top act.

In 1978, Metheny founded the Pat Metheny Group, drawing on the talent of drummer Dan Gottlieb, bassist Mark Egan, and Lyle Mays (the keyboardist he met during his days with Burton). Time referred to the group as a "long-lived fusion quartet whose richly textured, Brazilian flavored albums, with their smooth synthesized surfaces, appeal to listeners for whom jazz is normally a four-letter word."

"If you look at the group's history, right from the beginning we've always been after ways of trying to look at form from different angles," Metheny told the Washington Post. "The whole mission of the band was to explore what a jazz group can be in the modern era that it hasn't been before. And there are some real obvious things that we do that set us apart, starting with the amount of electricity involved to the actual sound of the band and the kinds of things that we've addressed, but underneath the hood of all of it from the beginning has been this thing of really messing with form and trying to write things that were not just tunes."

While the group would evolve over the years, the collaborative relationship with Mays would mark Metheny's career for more than two decades. Metheny's collaborations with a wide array of jazz and non-jazz artists would also mark his career. Ornette Coleman, Steve Reich, Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, and David Bowie were just a few of the artists to play with Metheny. Despite major success with ECM, Metheny left the label for Geffen in 1985 and set up Pat Metheny Productions, which leases its musical creations.

"I never wanted the headache of actually administering a label," Metheny told Daily Variety. "But I wanted the freedom to do things my way. As long as you can keep an audience intrigued and maintain a level of curiosity about the records, you're keeping up your end of the bargain. We've never compromised—and we've gotten away with it."

For nearly three decades, Metheny went beyond the role of "jazz guitarist" to compose a wide variety of compositions, ranging from rock to jazz to classical and ballet pieces. These included pieces for everything from solo guitar and small ensembles to large orchestras, using both acoustic and electric instruments. "Jazz is the all-inclusive form," he told Time in 2000. "There's room for everybody, for anything of true musical substance. Jazz guys like Duke Ellington or Miles Davis have always transformed the elements of the pop culture that surrounds us into something more sophisticated and hipper. It's their job."

The artist was an early proponent of electronic music, claiming to be among the first jazz artists to take the synthesizer seriously and to use the Synclavier for composing songs. Moving from his original Gibson ES-140T guitar, Metheny's sound evolved with his input into the creation of the 42-string Pikass guitar, the Ibanez PM-100 jazz guitar and the soprano acoustic guitar, as well as many other instruments (such as the sitar guitar). Always one to push his own style in new directions, Metheny broke with his reputation for having a developed sense of melody with the 1994 release of Zero Tolerance for Silence, which some denounced as noisy feedback but which Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, reportedly called "the most radical recording of this decade … a new milestone in electric guitar."

Thirty years after he began touring in 1974, Metheny continued to tour, performing between 120-240 shows annually. He also managed to keep a loyal fan base, consistently winning new musical awards. At the 2004 Grammy Awards, Metheny was awarded Best New Age Album for One Quiet Night, making him the artist with the most Grammy awards in different categories. The Pat Metheny Group's 2005 release The Way Up, led the Chicago Tribune to predict a potential "career turning point for its creators. The single 68-minute opus was composed of "four interlocking movements" joined together by "recurring melodic motifs" in an approach that used technology to "manipulate the studio as if it were an instrument."

Selected discography
Bright Size Life, ECM, 1975.
Watercolors, ECM, 1977.
Pat Methany Group, ECM, 1978.
American Garage, ECM 1980.
80/81, ECM, 1980.
As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls, ECM, 1980.
Song X, Geffen, 1985.
Works I, ECM, 1991.
Works II, ECM, 1991.
The Sign of 4, Knitting Factory, 1992.
Zero Tolerance for Silence, ECM, 1994.
Imaginary Day, Warner Brothers, 1997.
Trio Live, Warner Brothers, 2000.
One Quiet Night, Warner Brothers, 2003.
The Way Up, Nonesuch, 2005.


The first European musical virtuoso to influence American jazz was Django Reinhardt, a French-speaking Belgian gypsy who had only two working fingers on his left hand. He is regarded as the jazz guitar’s most dazzling soloist, most exciting improvisor, and most important innovator. Despite the fire injury at age 18 that crippled his fretting hand and challenged his very will to live, this extravagant, romantic, and illiterate genius went on to hasten the acceptance of the guitar as a popular solo instrument and to inspire musicians as varied as Yehudi Menuhin, Julian Bream, Les Paul, Barney Kessel, Chet Atkins, Joe Pass, and Carlos Santana.

Not only did Reinhardt become France’s most famous jazz performer, but during World War II he also assumed the status of national hero by refusing large sums of money to perform for the Nazi occupiers. After the war, expecting to reap some of his reputation’s benefits, he eagerly went to the United States to tour with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Disappointed by his reception in America, he returned to France and spent

the remaining seven years of his life playing and recording with a variety of combos, fishing, playing billiards, and painting. He died unexpectedly of a stroke at the age of 43.

Born Jean Baptiste Reinhardt on January 23, 1910, this musical prodigy began his uncommon life in a gypsy roulotte (or caravan, a horse-drawn wagon) in the Belgian town of Liverchies, near the French border. A gypsy of the Manouche band, he is said to have possessed the gypsy’s wandering impulse throughout his life, joining passing caravans while on tour, going off with various questionable "cousins" for meals or drinks instead of making gigs, and never really feeling comfortable unless he lived and traveled in a wagon. According to Rich Kienzle in Great Guitarists, Reinhardt most likely inherited his musical talent from his "probable father, Jean Ve’es," who was a comic and violinist. At the age of ten, Django (a gypsy dialect name meaning John, alternatively spelled "Jiango," or "Djengo," as on his gravestone) was given a banjo-guitar, which he practiced obsessively, becoming good enough by age 13 to perform as a sideman in low-level Parisian dance halls. Thereafter he was also playing violin and banjo, and within a few years he had recorded with a singer named Chabel.

Sustained Serious Injuries in Caravan Fire
Reinhardt reportedly first heard American-style jazz in 1925 or 1926, and soon he had garnered such local attention that he was playing with the accordionist-bandleader Maurice Alexander in the Belleville section of Paris. In his 1961 biography Django Reinhardt, author Charles Delaunay indicated that by 1928 Reinhardt had been signed by English bandleader Jack Hylton to appear in London with his orchestra. Before he could meet that obligation, however, a disastrous fire struck the caravan in which he and his wife were living, leaving him seriously injured and threatening an end to his musical career.

Most of the accounts of this terrible accident follow Delaunay’s description, but some sources differ in their description of Reinhardt’s resulting physical impairments: Was it his left or right leg that a doctor wanted to amputate? Or was it his left arm below the elbow? Were his "two middle fingers seared together," as George Hoefer related in Down Beat, or is Art Wrightman’s account, as told to Down Beat interviewer Dennis Hensley, more accurate? "His leg mended well enough for him to walk without a limp," Wrightman was quoted as saying, "but his left hand was extremely mutilated. His ring finger and pinky were permanently hooked, his skin was scarred, and his hand muscles were distorted." In any case, Reinhardt spent the next two years in relentless and courageous self-conducted therapy, and he taught himself a compensatory technique that allowed him once again to play the guitar. As Wrightman related: "Eventually, he was able to play certain ninth chords by hooking his little finger against the solo E string, but even that was rare. He was strictly a two-fingered player."

Returned to European Jazz Circuit with Famed Quintet
With his brother Joseph, Reinhardt was playing again by 1930 in front of the cafes and in the courtyards of Paris, passing the hat for money. The pair then toured the south of France, encountering artist Emile Savitry, who introduced Reinhardt to recordings by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Joe Venuti, and American guitar player Eddie Lang. Back in Paris in late 1931, he met Stephane Grappelli, then a pianist with alto saxophonist Andre Ekyan’s band. In the same year, the University Jazz Club was established in Paris, sponsored by Hugues Panassie, one of Europe’s first jazz critics. Within a year this became the Hot Club of France. Between 1934 and 1939 the club would become world famous for presenting the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, the unique jazz group formed around Grappelli, playing the violin with elegance, and rough-hewn guitarist Reinhardt.

The mid-1930s saw the phenomenal growth of the quintet’s quality and renown—and also of Reinhardt’s individual artistry as both player and songwriter. During these pre-World War II years, the unlikely string quintet recorded swinging renditions of American pop and jazz standards like "Dinah," "Tiger Rag," "Lady Be Good," "Stardust," "St. Louis Blues," and dozens of others well known to traditional jazz and swing aficionados. But Reinhardt also showed creative genius and sensitivity to his mixed European roots in original compositions, some in collaboration with Grappelli, such as "Djangology," "Minor Swing," "Bricktop," "Swing 39," and the international hit "Nuages." In the latter years of the quintet’s existence, he continued to compose in earnest while also recording often with several other European bands and visiting with American artists such as Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Rex Stewart, Barney Bigard, and Billy Taylor. As in the United States, the years just before World War II in Europe produced a great flowering of happily popular jazz in the four-beat, swinging mode. For his efforts with this sizzling Quintet of the Hot Club of France, Django Reinhardt quickly became famous as the world’s greatest jazz guitarist.

With Grappelli electing to live in England during the war, Reinhardt kept the quintet going in Vichy, France, by adapting it to available musicians. In addition to recording with a modified quintet, Reinhardt put together a number of big bands with French musicians, and in November of 1945, he recorded four sides with Django Reinhardt and His American Swing Band, made up of so-called American GIs newly arrived in liberated Paris. At about the same time, rampant and unsubstantiated rumors of Reinhardt’s death gained such currency abroad that Down Beat actually printed an erroneous announcement that he had died. Delaunay and other writers have furnished anecdotal information about Reinhardt’s adventures in occupied France during the early 1940s, including a bungled escape attempt to Switzerland that briefly put him into German custody and another attempt to flee during which he was turned back by the Swiss immigration officials because he was neither a Negro nor a Jew.

Reinhardt first enjoyed his postwar freedom and international fame in 1946 when Duke Ellington invited him to tour the United States with his orchestra. The tour was only mildly successful, the guitarist was less than thrilled, and the American jazz critics were scarcely impressed. Within two weeks of the tour’s end, Reinhardt returned home disappointed with America, despite learning some bebop, trying out the electrically amplified guitar, and listening to Frank Sinatra.

From 1947 until 1953, Reinhardt led a somewhat reclusive life, performing irregularly, touring his cherished south of France only seldom, but recording plentifully with a revived Hot Club quintet. With three different clarinetists, and occasionally with Grappelli, these recordings were devoted predominantly to his original French-flavored songs (like "Babik," "Crepuscule," "Feerie, Artillerie Lourde"), as well as his symphony from the war years, Manoir de mes Reves. In the first two months of 1949, he and Grappelli recorded 68 numbers in Rome—a session which, because of the modern Italian rhythm section and the soloists’ brilliance, "made this far more than a trip down Memory Lane preserving prewar swing," according to Kienzle.

He continued experimenting in the bop style and with the amplified guitar (much to the discouragement of his older devotees), jammed with Dizzie Gillespie in February of 1953, and made his last commercial recording on April 8, 1953, with a progressive group consisting of vibes ("Fats" Lallemand), piano (Martial Solal), bass (Pierre Michelot), and drums (Pierre Lemarchand). After returning from a strenuous Swiss tour in mid-May, he complained of headaches and numbness in his arms. Refusing to see a doctor, he collapsed from a severe stroke and died in a Fontainebleau hospital the next day.

Achieved Legendary Status as Jazz Guitar Innovator
Reinhardt’s innovations in guitar virtuosity included devices (some now common) like double-string picking, octave melodic voicing, flamenco-like "rumbling," and fiercely percussive chordal attacks. His trademark, however, is still not so common: bursts of extended melodic runs, astoundingly executed with just two fretting fingers. American guitarist Charlie Byrd, who played with Reinhardt in Paris while serving with the U.S. Army in 1945, described this facility for "scintillating passages of single notes," concluding in Down Beat that "it would take years of concentrated study" to imitate. In the same article, Barney Kessel, who was equally influenced by Reinhardt, cites the "intensity and emotion, the real fire" of his playing. "He was one of the real originals," Kessel proclaimed, adding, "If Django had wanted to stay in the United States and learn the language, I’m convinced he would have altered the course of the music itself."

What seems to astonish jazz fans and critics about Reinhardt’s playing is its inventive range—a lyrical blend of European romanticism, classical regularity, gypsy nonchalance, and the forcefulness of jazz. Reinhardt’s ear was infallible, according to virtually every musician who played with him. He is said to have been able to detect mistakes or intonation problems in individual instruments performing a symphony. His intuitive feeling for the guitar was unconstrained, and his technique was unsurpassed. Nobody playing the acoustic jazz guitar in the 1930s and 1940s could match his "biting attack and unremitting drive" and "the utterly fearless manner in which he positively leaps into his up-tempo solos," noted Stan Britt in The Jazz Guitarists. Reinhardt is credited as the only modern jazz guitarist—in any mode, at any tempo—to have produced improvisational figures of such constantly breathtaking inventiveness.

The variety and contradictions in Reinhardt’s playing style complement the fluctuations in his personal life and behavior. He was notoriously unreliable, missing gigs or showing up hours late just because he happened to meet some old friends. At the same time, he is said to have been extremely sensitive, capable of being reduced to tears by the beauty of a piece of music or someone’s playing. Perhaps it is true that he gradually tired of the impositions placed on him by his celebrity, as claimed by his longtime friend, critic Andre Hodeir. In his book Toward Jazz, Hodeir related that Reinhardt, "only a few weeks before his death, muttered: ‘The guitar bores me.’"

Despite his premature death, Reinhardt succeeded in joining the ranks of the few indisputable giants of jazz: Armstrong, Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Art Tatum. Like them, he was a natural musician who overcame substantial obstacles to become a household name in the realm of musical artistry.

Selected discography
Django ’35-’39, GNP Crescendo Records, 1973.
Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli (recorded in 1953), Vogue, 1990.
The Quintet of the Hot Club of France (recorded 1947-49), GNP Crescendo Records, 1991.
Nuages (recorded 1947-49), Vogue, 1991.
Django Reinhardt & Le Quintet du Hot Club de France (recorded 1934-37), EPM, 1991.
Djangology, RCA.
Django Reinhardt (three volumes), Everest Records, Archive of Jazz and Folk.
First Recordings, GNP Crescendo Records.
Paris 1945, Columbia.
Parisian Swing, GNP Crescendo Records.
Django and His American Friends (French), EMI Odeon CLP.
Django: The Later Years, La Roulette.

Wes Montgomery

"Listening to [Wes Montgomery’s] solos is like teetering at the edge of a brink," composer-conductor Gunther Schuller asserted, as quoted by Jazz & Pop critic Will Smith. "His playing at its peak becomes unbearably exciting, to the point where one feels unable to muster sufficient physical endurance to outlast it." Legendary guitarist Joe Pass simply says this about Montgomery’s place in musical history: "To me, there have been only three real innovators on the guitar—Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, and Django Reinhardt," as cited in James Sallis’s The Guitar Players.This high praise is a testament to the ability of a man of contradictions: Montgomery was a musician who never learned to read music, and he enjoyed commercial success rarely afforded to jazz musicians during the 1960s, while suffering critical—and personal—disapproval.

Born John Leslie Montgomery on March 6, 1923, in Indianapolis, Indiana, Montgomery showed no early musical aptitude or desire. At the age of nineteen, shortly after he was married, Montgomery heard a recording of "Solo Flight" by the Benny Goodman Orchestra with Charlie Christian on guitar. The impression was such that Montgomery immediately purchased an electric guitar, an amplifier, and as many Christian recordings as he could find, listening carefully to the guitar solos and learning to play them note for note. Montgomery’s neighbors complained about the noise, however, so he abandoned the guitar pick in favor of plucking the strings with his thumb. He found the resulting sound mellow and pleasing. Later, while experimenting with different styles and approaches, he discovered the technique that would become his signature. Gary Giddins, in Riding on a Blue Note, explains: "Almost as an extension of that dulcet, singing tone, he began to work in octaves—voicing the melody line in two registers."

Within a year, Montgomery played in local clubs, imitating Christian solos. Exposed to other musicians and musical ideas, he developed his own concepts, and in 1948 was asked to join Lionel Hampton’s big band. As a sideman, Montgomery toured and recorded with this group until 1950 when, having missed his wife and children, he returned home to work as a welder for a radio parts manufacturer. However, as Rich Kienzle pointed out in Great Guitarists, "His desire to play music…was strong. His shift was from 7 A.M. to 3 P.M.; he’d rest for a while, then play at the Turf Bar from 9 P.M. to 2 A.M., moving to a second gig at another club, the Missile Room, from 2:30 A.M. to 5 A.M." Montgomery continued this pace for six years, joining the group Mastersounds, composed of his brothers Monk (on bass) and Buddy (on piano and vibraphone), in 1957. A few recordings were made by the group on the West

Coast, but they failed to attract much attention, and Montgomery returned home to play in clubs.

In 1959, Montgomery received his big break. While performing at the Missile Room, he impressed saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, who subsequently contacted Orrin Keepnews of Riverside Records. Montgomery was immediately signed and traveled to New York to record his first album, The Wes Montgomery Trio. "From the beginning of his belated ‘discovery,’ the critical reception ranged from euphoria to hyperbole," Giddins explained. "No one had ever heard a guitar sound like Wes Montgomery’s." This critical euphoria reached a fevered pitch with the release of Montgomery’s follow-up album, The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (1960). It was not just the sound that Montgomery produced, but, asSallissays, "the intensity of his music one responded to, the power and personality of it. When Wes hit a string you felt it, and it wasn’t just a note, a C sharp or a B flat, it was part of a story he was telling you." This recording won Montgomery the down beat critics’ New Star Award for 1960, and he topped the guitar category in both down beat readers’ and critics’ polls in 1961 and 1962.

For the next couple of years, Montgomery performed and toured with various groups, including his brothers, John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly’s trio, and his own trio. Kienzle remarked that "by this time Wes had gained the eminence due him in the jazz world, producing a steady, high-quality level of music regardless of the context. His flow of ideas, soulful articulation, and effortless technique confronted other influences."

But in 1964, Riverside Records went bankrupt (following the death of president Bill Grauer), and Montgomery signed with Verve Records, headed by Creed Taylor. This move precipitated Montgomery’s fall from grace with the jazz world and concurrent rise in the popular music world. Giddins explains: "Creed Taylor realized something about Montgomery’s talent: it was octave technique and lyric sound, not his audaciously legato eighth-note improvisations with their dramatic architectural designs, that appealed to middle-of-the-road ears. So he set Montgomery on a course of decreasing improvisation and increasingly busy over-dubbed arrangements, while the octaves, once used so judiciously, became the focus of his new ‘style.’" Montgomery’s 1965 release, Goin’ Out of My Head, was a huge popular success, went gold, and earned him a Grammy award as the best instrumental jazz performance of the year.

Commercial success continued to escalate with subsequent albums on the Verve label, and in 1967, after having moved with Taylor to A&M Records, Montgomery recorded A Day in the Life.The title track not only became a popular hit, but the album became the best-selling jazz album of 1967 and one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time.

Remaking pop hits with a jazz feel increased his audience, but decreased his acclaim in jazz circles. Adrian Ingram, in an article for Jazz Journal International, noted that "hard core jazz fans began to desert him, complaining bitterly of over-orchestrated arrangements, sub-standard material (pop tunes) and constricted solo space." Sallis offered an explanation for his decline: "He was a victim of his own popularity, or of the trivialization of his talent, depending on how you perceive it, and as a result that talent went largely unheard for the last years of his life."

Montgomery was aware of the growing dissatisfaction in the jazz community with his supposed commercialization, and he tried to make a distinction between his earlier work and his more popular work. "There is a jazz concept to what I’m doing, but I’m playing popular music and it should be regarded as such," Montgomery said, as quoted by Giddins. His approach to music had always been one of feeling rather than one of technique. His inability to read music led to his development of a fine ear; he heard music rather than saw it on a page. And this was most important in his relation with his audience. "Wes believed that the music should be communicated, that the audience was part of the band, and the feeling of the music was more important to him than playing every note correctly," Jimmy Stewart wrote in Guitar Player.Regardless of the style of, or the audience for, the music, Montgomery played with feeling and conviction. Of Road Song, his last recording for A&M before his death, down beat’s Pete Welding said, "He couldn’t play uninterestingly if he wanted to. Time and time again throughout this collection his supple sense of rhythm, his choice and placement of notes, his touch and tone raise what might have been in lesser hands merely mundane to the plane of something special, distinctive, masterful."

Even with his quoted defense of playing popular music, Montgomery, as Ingram noted, "began to feel trapped by both the music business in general and non-jazz audiences who would tolerate only note perfect renditions of the most popular tunes from his Verve albums."

Montgomery longed to return to the playing of his earlier style. This was no more evident than when he performed live. A month before Montgomery’s death, Giddins saw him perform and described what he heard: "Surrounded by four rhythm players, his regular group, he immediately shot off a single chorus of ‘Goin’,’ and followed it with the most fiery, exquisite set of guitar music I’ve ever heard….Clearly, he had compromised only on disc and would eventually be recorded more seriously." Unfortunately, this did not occur. At the peak of his career, Montgomery suffered a fatal heart attack in his hometown on June 15, 1968.

"While Montgomery’s place in jazz history was earned through his early recordings—his jazz recordings— his talent was encompassing enough to enable him to take on the requirements of ‘commercial’ music and execute it with utter elan, unerring taste, musicianship, and true distinction," Welding wrote. In a review for down beat of a posthumous release, Don DeMicheal offered this statement on Montgomery’s lasting ability: "Montgomery could do no wrong when his muse was hot upon him, and it often led him to try and accomplish things that few others could even conceive." But it is perhaps this quote from Ingram that succinctly defines the achievements and losses of Montgomery: "Even when he was immersed in blatantly commercial surroundings, Montgomery never lost his ability to create sophisticated, tasteful jazz. He could turn tap water into vintage wine, though it is sad he was forced to do so, so often."

Selected discography
Finger Pickin’, Pacific Jazz, 1957.
Montgomery land, Pacific Jazz, 1958–59.
The Montgomery Trio, Riverside, 1959.
The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery, Riverside, 1960.
Movin’ Along, Riverside, 1960.
So Much Guitar!, Riverside, 1961.
Full House, Riverside, 1962.
Fusion, Riverside, 1963.
Boss Guitar, Riverside, 1963.
Movin’ Wes, Verve, 1964.
Bumpin’, Verve, 1964.
Goin’ Out of My Head, Verve, 1965.
Smokin’ at the Half Note, Verve, 1965.
Tequila, Verve, 1966.
California Dreaming, Verve, 1966.
A Day in the Life, A&M, 1967.
Down Here on the Ground, A&M, 1967.
Road Song, A&M, 1968.
Willow, Weep for Me, Verve, 1969.