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Talkin' Verve  - Wes Montgomery (Compilation) - 1964-1966
Label: Verve 314 529 580-2 (USA)
Format: CD
From: USA
My rating: 7/10

Entered: 02/13/2003
Last updated: 05/03/2003

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This is a nice compilation. My Wes Montgomery collection is rather sparse. It's not that I don't like him. in fact, I think a lot of his stuff is pretty cool. I think it's just that there's so much of it out there that it's hard to know what to buy. I have one A&M album on vinyl, A day in the life, which I really like, but the other late album I have, Road song, is a little shmaltzy for me.

This collection contains material that is exclusively from 1964 to 1966, and on this evidence, it sounds like this was a very strong period for Montgomery.

The arrangers are all top class: Johnny Pate, Don Sebesky, Claus Ogerman (only one track, alas!), and Oliver Nelson. The musicians are also excellent, including Ray Barretto, Grady Tate, and Ron Carter.

Almost all the tracks are nicely recorded, fairly poppy instrumentals with a gentle groove. To me, one track really stands out, and that's '13 (aka death march)', composed by my hero Gary McFarland. It features Jimmy Smith on organ, and has a great cinematic feel (not surprising, since the original tune is from a soundtrack), and great use of percussion that gives it a very cool and slightly funky feel, kind of like Lalo Schifrin.

For me, other highlights include 'sunny', 'tequila' (I admit it, I like pretty much all the tracks on which Ray Barretto plays the conga) and 'Bumpin' on sunset' (with Ogerman's shimmering strings). But there really isn't a bad track among the 16 here, and it's well worth picking up the disc if you see it at a good price.

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