Posted by: ronclegg | September 17, 2012

Wes Montgomery and Nica’s Dream

This is from the session in 1965 (Belgium). I love the way he stretches out on this performance (almost 9 minutes). Relaxed and joyful… that’s the Wes way.

Wes often approached solos in a three-tiered manner: He would begin a repeating progression with single note lines, derived from scales or modes; after a fitting number of sequences, he would play octaves for a few more sequences, finally culminating with arpeggiated chords.

The use of octaves (playing the same note on two strings one octave apart) for which he is widely known, became known as “the Naptown Sound”. Montgomery was also an excellent “single-line” or “single-note” player, and was very influential in the use of block chords in his solos. His playing on the jazz standard Lover Man is an example of his single-note, octave- and block-chord soloing. (“Lover Man” appears on the Fantasy album The Montgomery Brothers.)

Instead of using a guitar pick, Montgomery plucked the strings with the fleshy part of his thumb, using downstrokes for single notes and a combination of upstrokes and downstrokes for chords and octaves. This technique enabled him to get a mellow, expressive tone from his guitar. George Benson in the liner notes of the Ultimate Wes Montgomery album, wrote, “Wes had a corn on his thumb, which gave his sound that point. He would get one sound for the soft parts, and then that point by using the corn. That’s why no one will ever match Wes. And his thumb was double-jointed. He could bend it all the way back to touch his wrist, which he would do to shock people.”

Well, listen and enjoy one of the greats of jazz guitar….

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Responses

  1. That was awesome. Thanks for sharing and thanks for the heads up on the Naptown Sound. I will have to listen again later tonight.


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