Blues in F – Wes Montgomey 1965

A friend of mine sent me this from Holland, a year or so ago. It was probably re-broadcasted shortly before.

This is just a free swinging blues with famous guitarist Wes Montgomery. He is accompanied by a group of young Dutch musicians, probably all still in their early twenties. Although unknown in the larger part of the world these are Pim Jacobs piano, his younger brother Ruud on bass and drummer Han Bennink. They can compete with the best in the larger part of that world.

“Wes” Montgomery (1923 – 1968) Montgomery is often considered the greatest of modern Jazz guitarists. Montgomery toured with Lionel Hampton early in his career, however the combined stress of touring and being away from family brought him back home to Indianapolis. To support his family of eight, Montgomery worked in a factory from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm, then performed in local clubs from 9:00 pm to 2:00 am.

Instead of using a guitar pick, Montgomery plucked the strings with the fleshy part of his thumb, using down-strokes for single notes and a combination of upstrokes and down-strokes for chords and octaves. This technique enabled him to get a mellow, expressive tone from his guitar. Wes had a corn on his thumb, which gave his sound that point. He would get one sound for the soft parts, and then that point by using the corn. That’s why no one will ever match Wes. And his thumb was double-jointed. He could bend it all the way back to touch his wrist, which he would do just to shock people.”

He didn’t have a very long to live to enjoy his commercial success, he died of a heart attack at age 45 in 1968.