A rare meeting of guitarist Wes Montgomery and the trio of pianist Wynton Kelly – heard here on unissued material that stands strongly next to their classic Smoking At The Half Note album on Verve! About half the tracks here just feature Kelly's trio – but that's A-Ok with us, as the group is wonderful – a luminous unit that features Ron McClure on bass and Jimmy Cobb on drums – both players who showcase the maturing style of Wynton's piano work – a great mix of lyricism that stretches out beautifully on the album's longer tracks! Montgomery joins in about a third into the set, and the tunes get even sharper and groovier – as Wes' tones ring out strongly next to the piano, often opening up Kelly with even more chromatic hues. The whole thing is very well-recorded, and beautifully remastered.
All eight of the albums Wes Montgomery issued on Verve in the mid-'60s (including the two he did with organist Jimmy Smith) are on this limited-edition, five-CD box set. With the addition of 20 bonus tracks (none previously unreleased, some of them alternate takes or overdubbed versions) and a 76-page booklet that includes readable reproductions of the original LP sleeves, it's the definitive compilation of his work for the label. By its very size, of course, its appeal might be limited to completists and serious collectors.
Orrin’s commentary (from his new liner notes): “I began constructing the 1960 definitive presentation of [Wes] Montgomery by recognizing the need to keep things as clear-cut and uncomplicated as possible. There were at least three unique aspects to his performing style: he played with his thumb, never using a pick… and his solos almost invariably included two elements routinely referred to as ‘impossible’—his use of octaves and of pianistic block chords. Self-taught (his first ‘lesson’ had involved heavy listening to Charlie Christian records) and never able to read music notation of any kind, he somehow possessed an unfailing command of the blues and of ballad tempo and was an impressive composer.”