JAZZBO NOTES HIGHLY RECOMMENDED RECORDING
Alright, a little disclosure here. I’m not a big fan of either Milt Jackson or Wes Montgomery (I know — total heresy). So you might want to take my opinion of Bags Meets Wes with grain of salt.
I actually think it’s really good.
First off, it’s a straight bebop date, which I generally find boring (Yeah, I know — I’m just digging myself deeper with each sentence), but that isn’t the case with Bags Meets Wes. Why?
Well, on many, many bebop dates, the cats just blow over the changes, seemingly without a whole lot of thought. Just alot of empty scale running. That’s not the case here.
Jackson and Montgomery make sure they have something to say before they play. Each of their solos is melodic and well constructed.
The rhythm section behind them is better than usual, too. I’ve always admired pianist Wynton Kelly. He’s the epitome of grace and taste. Drummer Philly Joe Jones gooses the music along aggressively, giving it an energy it otherwise might not have. Bassist Sam Jones isn’t a thumper, as many bassists were during the early sixties. Bassists could often get away with playing nonsense as long as they kept the rhythm because they were under recorded. Jones is far enough up front in the mix that you can tell what he’s doing, and his lines are classic, plus he swings.
Who knows, if I really liked bebop, maybe I would give Bags Meets Wes a full five stars, but frankly, I find the material a tad dull. Played perfectly, mind you, but dull. But that’s just me.
If you’re a straight up bop fan, I’d get this if I were you. Even if you aren’t, I still recommend Bags Meets Wes.