So this morning was as jazzy kind of morning as I was out and about doing some errands I had Smokin’ at the Half Note by Wes Montgomery and Wynton Kelly playing on the iPod! The album was recorded live in late June 1965 at the Half Note Club in New York City, and September 22, 1965 at Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey and released by Verve.
The album features Montgomery teamed with the Wynton Kelly Trio.
The Wynton Kelly Trio is basically Kelly with bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb. Cobb and bassist Paul Chambers had already appeared on other Montgomery albums for Riverside Records such as Bags Meets Wes and Full House.. Both of those great albums are in my collection. Kelly had worked with Montgomery previously but in 1965, he began his association with the Wynton Kelly Trio in the summer of 1965. Together they toured the major jazz clubs in the US and also appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival on the afternoon of Sunday, 4 July. Kelly also appears with Montgomery on the album Willow Weep For Me another favorite album of mine and the track “Four on Six” is included on both albums!
The opening thirteen minute track “No Blues,” is phenomenal as both Mongomery and Kelly soar. The track was a cornerstone of the Miles Davis Quintet with Hank Mobley, circa 1961. The other four tracks on the album are just as good. “Unit 7” and “Four on Six” have become jazz standards based on their recording on this album!
The great Pat Metheny has said, “I learned to play listening to Wes Montgomery’s Smokin’ at The Half Note.” In addition, Metheny stated to the New York Times in 2005 that the solo on “If You Could See Me Now,” from this album is his favorite of all time.
Allmusic jazz critic Jim Smith called the album “essential listening for anyone who wants to hear why Montgomery’s dynamic live shows were considered the pinnacle of his brilliant and incredibly influential guitar playing.” and wrote that “Montgomery never played with more drive and confidence, and he’s supported every step of the way by a genuinely smokin’ Wynton Kelly Trio.”
Finally Stuart Nicholson of Jazz Institute of Chicago can tell yyou more of the details about the album than I ever could. I know is that I love what I hear and this album will be played whenever I need to hear a little great guitar and piano!
Here’s Wes with “Round Midnight”