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The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery

Wes Montgomery: The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (Riverside, 1960)

Don’t you love a title that tells you what’s in store? Recorded in January of 1960, Montgomery’s second album as a leader, produced by Orrin Keepnews, drew from ’50s jazz while pointing toward more modern sounds. Backed by an all-star rhythm section of Tommy Flanagan and Percy and Tootie Heath, the guitarist produced a rich tone derived partly from his distinctive use of his right thumb rather than a pick, partly from his tasteful (and finger-challenging) incorporation of octave lines. Two decades before, Charlie Christian had brought jazz guitar into the 20th century; now Montgomery expanded its vocabulary, serving as a beacon for future generations of guitarists. LEE MERGNER

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