Wes Montgomery

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John Leslie "Wes" Montgomery (March 6, 1923 - June 15, 1968) was an African-American jazz guitarist. He was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, part of a musical family including his brothers, Monk (string bass) and Buddy (vibraphone). Recordings Wes made with his brothers include Grooveyard and Live at Jorgies. His recordings for Riverside Records (1959-1963) include The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (1960) and the live recording Full House (1962). After Riverside Records went bankrupt, Montgomery recorded for Verve Records (1964-1966), including the album Smokin' at the Half Note (1966). He signed with A&M Records in 1967 and recorded three popular albums. He died of a heart attack on June 15, 1968.

Wes' technique was unorthodox in that he did not use a pick, instead plucking the strings with the fleshy part of his thumb. This technique enabled him to get a mellow, expressive tone from the instrument. Wes generally played a Gibson guitar, usually an L-5CES, or in later years, one of two guitars that Gibson custom-made for him. In early years, Wes had a tube amp, often a Fender, though in later years, he played a solid-state Standel. This site (http://users.bestweb.net/~msnyder/dunbar/wes.htm) has an account of a modification of Wes' amp to make it more sensitive (see Tone Lizard (http://www.tone-lizard.com/lesson10.htm)).

Although Wes was not a good reader of music, he had an instinctive knowledge of jazz harmony and an incredible command of the fretboard. Along with the octaves for which he is widely known, Wes was also an excellent single-line player, and he was very influential in his use of block chords in his solos.

Many jazz guitarists today list Wes among their influences, including Pat Martino, George Benson, and Yoshiaki Miyanoue.

There is a park in Indianapolis named in his honor.

External links

Discographies

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