Wes Montgomery

By Wes Montgomery (1923-1968) I have over 2 mp3 collections Finger Pickin’ (1996) live December 1957, Movin’ Along (1960), Boss Guitar (1963), Guitar on the Go (1966) includes tracks recorded in 1959 and October and November 1963, Bumpin’ (1965), Dynamic Duo with Jimmy Smith (1966), Further Adventures with Jimmy Smith (1966), California Dreaming (1966), A Day In The Life (1967). As stand alone: Impressions; The Verve Jazz Sides 1995 2cd compilation.

My introduction to Wes was late in his career by A Day In The Life by which time he was on the A&M label with producer Chip Taylor. I loved his mellow electric-elastic guitar tone & was amazed by his covering of pop songs like Windy & A Day In The Life. Listening to them now they are a bit too reverent & verge on muzak. But this was the Chip Taylor style.

Many jazz players enlivened their careers by working with contemporary pop material to appeal to younger  listeners. His earlier work is much jazzier in a tradition way – his playing is always precise & tasteful. I love the two lps he recorded with organist Jimmy Smith & they are well worth having. The Verve sides are a delight too. 

Rounding out the mp3 cds are: Herbie Mann and Dave Valentin: Two Amigos (1990); Herbie Mann and Phil Woods: Beyond Brooklyn (2004) – two fun jazzy sets with Herbie Mann. Good solid work that verges on easy listening.

Art Pepper (1925 –1982): The Return of Art Pepper (1956), Artworks (recorded 1979 released in 1984). His career was repeatedly interrupted by several prison stints stemming from his addiction to heroin. His sax is slightly aggressive, propulsive & adventurous but rarely becomes squawky. He covers jazz standards & originals.

Chico Hamilton (drummer): Man From Two Worlds (1963) Gábor Szabó, The Further Adventures of El Chico (1966). Gábor Szabó is another of my favourite easy to enjoy jazz guitarists. I picked up a double lp while I was living in Cape Breton & loved it. Another jazz player who did excellent covers of pop music. On the hits lp were tracks he recorded with Chico, so I eventually added some Chico to my collection. Solid, sometimes intellectual jazz, old-school & fun to listen to.

Here too is Wilbert Longmire’s Revolution (1969) – another jazz guitarist in the Montgomery mold in a fun funky set of mostly covers – including the Beatles’ Revolution. Finally Art Farmer (Trumpet): Crawl Space (1977) – a fine, moody, romantic set of excellent jazz that is a good introduction to jazz in a more exploratory & relaxed style.

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Gunn Mann

Soundtrack composers are easy to dismiss for the mass appeal of their work – populist & therefore shallow. Henry Mancini is one such composer. The range of his musical ability is staggering when one looks at the span of his career. Academy awards only testify to the popularity of his work not of its quality.

Also with time, even his timeless pieces have taken on a sort of nostalgic campy quality. A song like Moon River seems quaint. I have always loved his music for Peter Gunn & have the original TV soundtrack. When you get past the Arch of the Cue Balls you have a fine, state-of-the-jazz art album that can stand with anything by, say, Horace Silver.  Quincy Jones Plays Mancini is a great set of covers. I love Baby Elephant Walk.

I guess I am a Herbie Mann fan, at least of his work up to the mid-70’s. The first Herbie Mann I heard was Push Push way back in 1971. I loved it & the use of harp in jazz was a revelation. I had that lp & replaced it with the cd. I found the double lp Evolution of Mann remaindered at Zellers & it covered the earlier part of his career, eventually I did the conversion from lp to cd. Stone Flute, & Gagaka I also had as lps at one time & both are stunning sets.

As mp3 I have by Herbie Mann:  Flute Flight 1957, Flute Soufflé 1957, Do The Bossanova 1962, The Complete Latin Band Sessions w Chick Corea 1965, Impressions of the Middle East 1966, Gagaku & Beyond 1976, Two Amigos 1990 w Dave Valentine, Beyond Brooklyn 2004 w Phil Woods. Stand-alones: lp to cd transfer of Evolution of Mann: a sort of hits collection; Stone Flute 1969 meditative with strings includes stunning take on The Beatles ‘Flying’, Push Push 1971 w Duane Allman Gene Bianca on harp. 

Mann was a world music fan before it was on trend. He explored Latin, Japanese, Northern Africa music with musicians from those areas. He steeped himself  in the sound & sensibility & co-created memorable music. I love the Gagaku work. Where to start? I’d go with Push Push. Don’t let his hairy shoulders put you off.

Rounding out the Mann mp3 cd compilations are: Wes Montgomery: Fingerpickin’, Moving’ Along. Early work by Wes with his trademark fluid jazz guitar. Stanley Jordan: Magic Touch – modelled after Wes, another deft guitarist. Art Pepper: The Trip – excellent sax with more of a hard bop edge. Some mid 50’s sleaze adventures, where you feel the tassels twirling around your nose as you listen: Strip Tease 50’s Classics: by the likes of Dave Rose, Sonny Lester – songs like Strip Poker, The Stripper; Buddy Bregman: Swinging Kicks. Burlesque A Go-Go: various rock-a-billy for peelers.

Perhaps the ultimate Bond soundtrack by John Barry: Goldfinger. Shirley Bassey delivers the best Bond title song of all time. Finally as a break from all that:  Don Slepian: Electronic Music From The Rainbow Isle – a moog, computer music pioneer; Szatvari Csaba: Galilei’s Nightmare – new ageish sound textures.

Take The Plunge

the room was full

maple leaves sumac oak

aspen poplar beech

more leaves than the eye could see

could gave names to

rose lilac no flowers just leaves


each one tagged 

ready to be discarded


leaves fluttering chafing rustling

at each breath I took

whispering to each other

that I was there


at the sight of my rake

they feared the rake


the brown big bag behind my back

wasn’t going to hold them all

I’d need more bags

more rakes


the leaves trembled in anticipation

to be stuffed crammed

longing to be taken outdoors

to become compost

for future leaves


I didn’t know where to begin

were there stairs

the house was crammed

floor to ceiling

nothing could be seen

leaves crumbling 


over one another

more arrived every minute

squeezing though cracks in the wall

down the chimney


it was an endless task

I began raking 

pulling them from under chairs

bag after bag

line the curb

yet the house never emptied

all around me 

the swirl of leaves

green red black pointed waxy

I couldn’t get down the stairs

my rake was useless

they no longer had fear

no bags left and there were more


catalpa palm smoke tree

I climbed out to the porch roof

the street was an ocean

the bags I had tenderly packed

had all broken open

children where running and playing

diving through the leaves

never touching the ground

unaware of the dangers

beneath the glorious tempest of leaves


I took the plunge


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Abercrombie (no Finch)

Moving along to my jazz section – what I’ll do on Music Mondays will be two in a row looking at my pop collection alternating with a Monday of classical or jazz – at that rate I should get through my collection (if it doesn’t grow) in about seventy years 🙂

pinkpretty flamingo

First on the shelf is Gateway, a 1975 ECM release: John Abercrombie, with Dave Holland & Jack DeJohnette is a very tight mellow trio setting. Each have recorded extensively with EMC. In fact EMC had a large rotating stable of musicians who recorded in various combinations.

maskthe masquerade is over

This one, in many ways, is no different for much of the catalogue – intense, intellectual, meditative music for the ear, mind and soul as opposed to rock your body. This was EMC’s focus. In a sense Chamber Jazz but not as tight laced as chamber music.

cakesomeone left a cake out in the rain

Abercrombie’s guitar is sharp, fluid and draws me in easily. The sound is similar to Wes Montgomery in its fluidness but never as mellow as Wes. Good writing music but perhaps too busy for background music.


February 21, Friday – featuring – Racket at the Rocket: 7 p.m., Red Rocket Cafe, 1364 Danforth Ave. https://www.facebook.com/events/818441091515505/


March 1, Saturday – attending – Toronto SpecFic Colloquium


June 6-8 – attending – Bloody Words

June 23-27 – attending – Manuscript to Book – Loyalist Summer Arts – Belleville, Ont https://www.facebook.com/events/589522924455695/

August 28-31 – attending – FanExpo Canada



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