JJ 04/64: Wes Montgomery – Full House

Sixty years ago Steve Voce thought Wes's impeccable ballads would cause much breaking of guitars by frustrated players throughout the realm. First published in Jazz Journal April 1964


Montgomery in particularly good form and in particularly good company. The impressive way he improvises and leaves one with the feeling that he has only half tapped his powers is, I suppose, one of the signs of greatness in a jazz musician. Montgomery always gives this impression to me, and I have previously mistaken it for a coldness towards the music. I catch on fast, however, and have enjoyed this more than any of his previous issues.

Unfortunately, like James Clay on an earlier Montgomery Riverside, the tenor sax is here under-recorded, and one doesn’t quite achieve the full impact of Mr. Griffin’s elaborately dealt hand. However, there can be no mistake about his kicking and romping contribution to the fast-burning Boogie – here is one of the great ones in full flight, pushed down only slightly by comparison with Mont­gomery’s deceptively calm and suddenly fiery attack on his solo in this number.

Kelly is his usual delicate and tasteful self – the ideal pianist for such a group, and well looked after by his two rhythm henchmen from the old Miles Davis band.

The ballads, particularly Rain, are impeccable examples and will, I imagine, cause much breaking of guitars by frustrated players throughout the realm.

My only complaint about the playing here would be in terms of the rather monotonous unisons by Griffin and Montgomery which open and close most of the numbers. However, there is no doubt that the guitarist’s incisive phrasing fits well with Griffin’s playing and, in terms of blowing sessions, this club recording reaches a very high standard of quality.

Full House; I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face; Blue ‘N’ Boogie (22 min) – Cariba; Come Rain Or Shine; S.O.S. (19 min)
Johnny Griffin (ten); Wes Montgomery (g); Wynton Kelly (p); Paul Chambers (bs); Jimmy Cobb (d). June 1962, Tsubo Coffee House. Berkeley, California.
(Riverside RLP 434 12inLP 32s. 2d.)