Personnel: Wes Montgomery (guitar, bass guitar); Wes Montgomery; Kenny Burrell (guitar); Margaret Rose (harp); Winston Collymore, Sylvan Shulman, Mac Ceppos, Samuel Rand, Isadore Zir, Paul Winter Consort, David Nadien, Gene Orloff, Harry Lookofsky (violin); Ralph Hersh, Burt Fisch (viola); Lucien Schmit, Kermit Moore (cello); James Clay (flute); Phil Bodner (woodwinds); Dick Hyman, Hank Jones (piano); Melvin Rhyne (organ); Milt Hinton, Monk Montgomery, Percy Heath, Ron Carter (bass instrument); Louis Hayes (drums, bass drum); George Brown , Jimmy Cobb , Lex Humphries, Osie Johnson, Walter Perkins, Bobby Thomas, Jr. (drums); Johnny Griffin (tenor saxophone); Buddy Montgomery (piano, vibraphone); Victor Feldman, George Shearing, Tommy Flanagan, Wynton Kelly (piano); Milt Jackson (vibraphone); Albert "Tootie" Heath, Philly Joe Jones (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Kirk Felton.
Liner Note Author: Ken Dryden .
Recording information: Plaza Sound Studios, New York, NY (10/06/1959-11/27/1963); Reeves Sound Studios, New York, NY (10/06/1959-11/27/1963); Tsubo, Berkeley, CA (10/06/1959-11/27/1963); United Recording Studios, Los Angeles, CA (10/06/1959-11/27/1963).
Photographer: Don Schlitten.
Though guitarist Wes Montgomery achieved commercial success with a light, crossover sound on his records in the late 1960s, his reputation as a master of blues-inflected jazz playing was confirmed by his output on Riverside (1959 to 1963). This very fine 14-song sampler provides an overview of that period. Beginning with his early trio dates ("Yesterdays," from '59, features Montgomery with an organist and drummer) and going straight through to his appearance with a large string ensemble (1963's "Tune Up"), THE BEST OF does not disappoint in its variety and consistently high quality.
Post-bop with a refined, deeply soulful edge is on order here, and Montgomery manages to be funky and subtle at once. The appearance of stellar personnel doesn't hurt matters, either--tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin, vibraphonist Milt Jackson, pianists Wynton Kelly and George Shearing, bassist Ron Carter, and drummer Jimmy Cobb all make cameos. In addition to intensely lyrical ballads ("Polka Dots and Moonbeans"), the Riverside material is notable for its high groove quotient, melding laid-back beats and shuffling rhythms to bop pyrotechnics, casting the whole in a soul-jazz vibe. This is a strong, compact introduction to some of the best guitar-based jazz of the era.