One of the founding fathers of modern jazz guitar

Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery (March 6, 1923 - June 15, 1968) was an American jazz guitarist, composer, and bandleader. As an early pioneer of electric jazz guitar, Montgomery helped push the guitar from its previous role as part of the rhythm section and into the spotlight as a lead instrument. Along with Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian, Montgomery is widely considered one of the founding fathers of modern jazz guitar.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Montgomery picked up the four string tenor guitar at the age of twelve and began learning Charlie Christian solos and jamming with his two brothers, Monk and Buddy, who played the bass and piano/vibraphone, respectively. By his early twenties, Montgomery was touring with Lionel Hampton, the great jazz vibraphonist. In 1950, after a long a educational stint on the road, Montgomery returned to Indianapolis and took a break from touring and recording, working as a machinist by day and practicing his guitar long into the night.

It was during this time period that Montgomery matured as an artist, combining an unorthodox thumb-picking technique with a unique musical vision to wonderful effect. Many critics have remarked that Montgomery often made use of a formula during his solos, usually beginning with a chorus of single-note melodic lines, then moving to octave-based playing, and finally to block chords. This approach proved highly useful in building musical excitement and tension, lending a subtle sense of drama and suspense to Montgomery’s playing that few players of his day were able to match.

In 1959, Riverside records approached Montgomery with a record deal, and soon thereafter the widely acclaimed and deeply influential album, The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery, was released. In 1964, the guitarist moved to Verve Records and released several more highly acclaimed albums, many featuring lush, orchestral arrangements utilizing woodwind and brass instruments. It was during this period that Montgomery embarked on his famed 1965 European tour, an outstanding run of shows that yielded many great recordings for television and radio audiences.

In 1967, Montgomery signed with A&M Records, a deal that would yield three commercially successful albums. These three albums - A Day in the Life, Down Here on the Ground, and Road Song - featured instrumental arrangements of major pop hits, elevating Montgomery to a level of popular appeal that few jazz artists have ever matched. Montgomery died of a heart attack at his home in Indianapolis in 1968, shortly after returning from tour.

Montgomery has been cited as an influence by musicians ranging from Pat Metheny to Jimi Hendrix. He is iconic both for his warm, round guitar tone and for his vibrant and often blues-inflected melodic lines, many of which have cemented themselves into the modern jazz lexicon. His innovative playing won him many awards in his day, including several Grammys.

Wes Montgomery Videos

Wes Montgomery - Blue Grass [1965]

Wes Montgomery plays "Blue Grass" in Hamburg

"Blue Grass" is perhaps English baritone saxophonist Ronnie Ross's best-known piece of jazz music.

Wes Montgomery - Last Of The Wine [1965]

Wes Montgomery plays "Last of the Wine" in Hamburg

NDR studios in Hamburg, Germany played host to a who's-who of jazz giants in its day, exposing the people of Communist West Germany to the likes

Watching The "Man" Wes Montgomery - Medium.m4v

Wes mellowing out with his piano player

This is a great look at Wes Montgomery, the man.

Wes Montgomery Documentary ( Part 1 of  4 )

A great documentary on Wes Montgomery: Part 1

Cool factoid: Wes Montgomery, known today for producing the warmest, fattest tone in the history of jazz guitar, was forced to develop his signat

WesMontgomery FullHouse ウェスモンゴメリー フルハウス

Wes Montgomery performs "Full House" live on Japanese television

Here's another version of the eminently catchy Montgomery original, "Full House." This cut, recorded for Japanese television, features a particul

full house

Wes Montgomery plays "Full House" live on television

Originally released by Riverside Records in 1962, "Full House" was recorded with some of the best-known sidemen of the 1960s: Wynton Kelly, Paul

Wes Montgomery-Four On Six (1965)-Guitarra de Jazz.

Wes Montgomery hands take center stage on "Four On Six"

For you jazz guitar nerds out there, this is the video. Check out the fretboard cam action at 0:50!

Wes Montgomery "Twisted Blues"

Wes Montgomery and his band hit "Twisted Blues"

"Twisted Blues," a Montgomery original, is an accessible and tasty piece of swing.


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