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Wes Montgomery: Live at Ronnie Scott’s

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The guitarist left his rhythm section of Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb in New York to go to London. He accommodates himself to pianist Stan Tracey, bassist Rick Laird and drummer Ronnie Stephenson, who accompany him conscientiously. Stephenson provides more than capable drumming that seems to take inspiration from Cobb. Montgomery keeps his prodigious swing at a high level, complete with octaves technique, but the intensity takes a noticeable drop when he is not playing. He has terrific solos on “Gone With the Wind” and “It Could Happen to You,” and a lovely, unaccompanied “Solo Ballad in A-Major.” Tracey has played more impressively than he does here; his soloing is basically a continuation of his comping, with occasional whimsical bows in the direction of Thelonious Monk. The miking of Laird’s bass is so mushy that most of the time it is hard to know what to make of his playing. For Montgomery’s best moments, this album is worthwhile.