Wes Montgomery - In Paris

Label: Resonance Records, 2018

Lineup - Wes Montgomery: guitar; Harold Mabern: piano; Arthur Harper: bass; Jimmy Lovelace: drums + guest Johnny Griffin: tenor saxophone.


Released as a deluxe 2CD-set and digital edition, In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording signals the memorable Paris concert by the super jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery. The event took place at the Theatre des Champs-Elysées during his 1965 European tour.
The 10 tracks of this recording are split equally into two discs, with the first of them opening and closing with classics by the guitarist, namely “Four on Six” and “Jingles”, respectively. Both tunes comprise killer solos by Wes, typically packed with flawless octaves technique, rhythmically stirring block-chords, and melodic phrases imprinted with a smooth touch and an impressive musicality.

Coltrane’s “Impressions” showcases the idiomatic fluidity of the bandleader, whose speed reductions and accelerations are delineated with inventive rhythmic agility. While the pianist Harold Mabern inflames his discourses with a steamed urgency, the foundation builders, composed of bassist Arthur Harper and drummer Jimmy Lovelace, restlessly encapsulate the sturdiness of the bebop era in their playing.

Popular standards such as the balladic waltz “The Boy Next Door”, here with its title altered to “The Girl Next Door”, and “Here’s That Rainy Day”, devised with a propelling bossa nova flow, complete the disc one.

The disc two starts rhythmically responsive with Mabern’s uptempo “To Wane”, a composition dedicated to Wayne Shorter, and then there is saxophonist Johnny Griffin enriching three pieces in a row with his vibrant vocabulary. They are Wes’ “Full House”, Monk’s “Round Midnight” (mounted with a Latin final section), and the bluesy merger “Blue ’N Boogie/West Coast Blues”, in which he sounds amazing with and without accompaniment.

The session ends in satiating grace with “Twisted Blues”, the opener of Wes’ brilliant 1961 album So Much Guitar.  It’s bebop at its best, revealing that the guitarist’s sound is just as brilliant live as it is in the studio.

        Grade  A

        Grade A

Favorite Tracks:
01(disc1) - Four On Six ► 02 (disc1)- Impressions ► 04 (disc2)- Blue ’N Boogie/West Coast Blues