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Wes Montgomery: The Softer Side of Genius

Wes Montgomery is not only one of the most important guitarists in jazz history, he’s also one of the music’s most inspired natural talents-whatever the instrument. The flowing solos on his early ’60s Riverside recordings feature deep musicality, warm melodies, fearsome chops and a remarkable use of octaves. Instead of a plectrum, Montgomery used his thumb to create a soft attack on his Gibson L-5 without suffering a loss of rhythmic drive, and he’s often cited as the most influential jazz guitarist since Charlie Christian.

A recent reissue of Smokin’ at the Half Note (Verve), a pivotal 1965 album with Wynton Kelly’s Trio, has cast Montgomery’s greatness into the spotlight once again.

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