FUSION!: WES MONTGOMERY
With Strings; arranged and conducted by JIMMY JONES
WES MONTGOMERY QUINTET WITH STRINGS
Wes Montgomery (g) Dick Hyman (p) Kenny Burrell (g) Milt Hinton (b) Osie Johnson (drs)
Phil Bodner (woodwinds) Gloria Agastini (harp) Gene Orloff, Harry Lookofsky, David Nadien, Winston Collymore, Mac Aeppos, Arnold Eidus, Leo Kruczek, Raoul Poliakin, Isadore Zir (violins) Alfred Brown, Burt Fisch (violas) Charles McCracken, George Ricci (cello)
Plaza Sound Studios, NYC; April 18, 1963
In the Wee Small Hours
of the Morning (2:48) (A-3) RM(S9)-472 M-47030
Pretty Blue (take 1) (1) (3:16) (A) -
Pretty Blue (take 2) (1) (3:39) (A-2) - -
The Girl Next Door (take 1) (3:07)
The Girl Next Door (take 2) (3:06) (A-5) - -
Hank Jones (p, celeste) replaces for D. Hyman
God Bless the Child (take 2) (1) (3:15) (A) - VIJ-4027
God Bless the Child (take 4) (1) (3:17) (B-2) RM(S9)-472 -
My Romance (2:29) (B-1) - -
Prelude to A Kiss (take 2) (3:04)
Prelude to A Kiss (take 3) (3:06) (A-4) - -
All the Way (2:37) (A-1) - -
Sam Rand, Sylvan Shulman, Paul Winter, (violin) replaces for A. Eidus, L. Kruczek, Ralph Hersh replaces A. Brown,
Burt Fisch (violas) Lucien Schmit, Kermit Moore (cello) replaces for C. McCracken, G. Ricci
Plaza Sound Studios, NYC; April 19, 1963
Somewhere (3:28) (B-4) RM(S9)-472, M-47030
Tune Up (take 1) (4:50)
Tune Up (take 2) (5:06) (A) M-47065, VIJ-4027, VICJ-23657CD
Tune Up (take 4) (4:41) (A) M-47030 - -
Tune Up (take 5) (4:46) - -
Tune Up (take?) (3:12) (B-3) RM(S9)-472
Baubles, Bangle and Beads (take3) (2:21)
Baubles, Bangle and Beads (take4) (2:22) (B-5) - -
Some time after this album had been recorded, and had begun to stir up feelings of awe and admiration among those who heard advance copies, and inside rumor began to circulate that there was a conspiracy at work to keep this record from being released to the public. The supposed conspirators were a strange group indeed: Wes Montgomery, who ;ayes this material so brilliantly and beautifully; Jimmy Jones, who wrote the breathtakingly rich and tender arrangements that frame Montgomery’s guitar; Ray Fowler, the recording engineer who captured this remarkable sound blend; and myself, the producer of the album.
The story, of course, was slanderous and false. But not entirely false, I must confess. For each of us happens to consider his particular efforts here to be something close to his finest achievement to date in his field. I admit to you now what we have admitted to each other – that each of us was very much like a fond parent who, even though he knows his child is strong and bright and certain to become president or a millionaire or a movie star, is still a little reluctant to let him leave home and go out into the world on his own.
But now that the deed is done, I am sure everything is going to be quite all right, that you will also love this music and will feel that our unabashed pride in our child is justified.
Some of the words the dictionary uses to define fusion are “blending”, “melting together”, “coalition”. Which serves very nicely to emphasize that this album is above all a meshing of the superb talent of a literally incredible guitarist with that of an arranger who is not only an unexcelled craftsman but is also a man who deeply understands the nature of Wes’ artistry and how best to frame it. To me, the combination is like a jeweler’s display casein which a rare gem gleams warmly against a background of rich dark velvet.
Not surprisingly, this did not come about casually or accidentally. We have long wanted to find a properly full-sounding framework for Montgomery, particularly one to showcase his most nearly neglected side. For, with all the emphasis in recent years on Wes’ fiery improvisational skills and unprecedented use f octaves and chords, less than enough attention has been paid to his truly beautiful melodic and lyrical qualities. When discussions with Wes led to the idea of a with-strings album, the only question was one that came p later – had it been Wes or I who was the first to say “Jimmy Jones” ? Call it a dead heat. In any event, Jimmy responded with the uncommon thoroughness and professionalism that have made his writing for Sarah Vaughan, Joe Williams and Harry Belafonte and so many others so strikingly effective.
First the tunes were agreed upon. (Most of the choices were Wes’, including the uniquely leisurely approach that uncovers the lovely melodic core of Miles Davis’ usually jump-tempoed Tue-Up.)
Then Jimmy and Wes settled down to fundamentals: not only the desired tempo and key of each number, but the desired mood and effect, with the guitarist home-taping the melody lines so that the arranger could live with his approach to them for a while before beginning to write. There was some study of the with-strings albums, mainly to point up what was not wanted. No cloying thick-syrup sounds. No jarring disruptions, as when after an ensemble opening the strings are suddenly turned off and a jazzy rhythm sections takes over (When I want small-band blowing, I can do a quartet like one unit.”). There was also some talk about what was wanted. “Make me sound like Frank Sinatra with Nelson riddle,” was how Montgomery put it. That’s a not unworthy goal and, allowing for some obvious differences, it’s not a bad description of how things worked out.
In the recording studio, the fusion continued, with a large group of more-than-capable musicians clearly enjoying playing with Wes and under Jimmy Jones’ tactful but firm musical direction. Montgomery (who is often nervously self-critical) found himself happy with his own solos from the start. The scores Jones had prepared came alive as a lush sound cushion on which Wes’ very personal style, blues-full and romantic, rode gracefully. And it all meshed . There were, rather incredibly, very few rough spots to iron out, and no real problems.
The results are here. I think they’ll make you feel warm ad happy, and maybe even like crying a little (at Least on the inside). I think (o, I know) you’ll find them a remarkably moving and enjoyable listening experience.
Other Montgomery albums include –
Boss Guitar (459; stereo 9459)
Full House (434; stereo 9434)
So Much Guitar! (382; stereo 9382)
Movin’ Along (342; stereo 9342)
The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (320; stereo 1169)
Wes Montgomery Trio (310; stereo 1156)
NOTE: (1) P. Bodner out
10 titles of RM(S9)-472 also on SMJ-6210
RM(S9)-472 + (A) also on VICJ-60034CD, VICJ-41167CD
10 titles of M-47030 also on VICJ-23657CD
all 19 titles also on VICJ-40060/71CD
‘Tune Up’ (3:12) on RM(S9)-472
RM(S9)-472 “Fusion!”: with Strings; arranged and conducted by Jimmy Jones
VIJ-4027 “Wes Montgomery: Born to Be Blue”
Produced by Orrin Keepnews; recording Engineer: Ray Fowler & mastered by Ray Haggerty.
Cover design by Ken Deardoff; back-liner photos by Ed Mitchel.
RIVERSIDE RECORDS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street, New York 36, N.Y.