Previously unreleased Wes Montgomery tracks appear on Smokin’ in Seattle, in stores today

In April of 1966, jazz guitar icon Wes Montgomery made appearances with the Wynton Kelly Trio in Seattle, Washington. Those cuts, which appear on Smokin’ In Seattle—Live at the Penthouse on Resonance Records, are finally in wide release after a deluxe limited edition was released last month.

It is only the third commercially released live album of Wes Montgomery with piano legend Wynton Kelly, and was recorded a mere seven months after their classic 1965 live album Smokin’ at the Half Note. Pat Metheny called that effort, “the absolute greatest jazz guitar album ever made.”

Kelly’s dynamic trio featured bassist Ron McClure and the legendary drummer and NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Cobb, who is best well-known for his work on Miles Davis’s albums Kind of Blue, Sketches of Spain, and Someday My Prince Will Come.

Wynton Kelly first collaborated with Wes Montgomery in 1962 with their album Full House (Riverside), also with Jimmy Cobb on drums (McClure joined Wynton Kelly’s trio a few years later in 1965, replacing Paul Chambers), followed by the legendary Smokin’ at the Half Note. Smokin’ in Seattle is a new chapter in the storied collaboration of these two jazz giants.

The recording is pristine. McClure’s bass positively jumps out of the speakers. Kelly’s piano work struts dynamically and Cobb is clearly at the top of his game. Montgomery appears on six of the ten cuts and demonstrates why he is one of the most widely admired and emulated guitar players in the history of jazz.

The interplay between Montgomery (pictured above) and Kelly (pictured below) is the highlight of the recording. On Montgomery’s “Jingles,” Kelly states the central theme on the song in an opening section. Montgomery mirrors his piano lines like call and response singing before blasting a blistering solo that displays all of the hallmarks of his innovative playing. Audience members can practically be heard in the background shaking their heads in awe. One actually gasps audibly.

Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova, “O Morro Não Tem Vez” is another standout cut. Cobb opens the song with some stellar Brazilian-inspired stick work before Montgomery enters with a lyrical solo. His playing on the classic love song develops organically and includes some otherworldly comping on the changes.

The album includes extensive liner notes with interviews and essays that put the music in context. Smokin’ In Seattle—Live at the Penthouse is a must for guitar fans and other music lovers interested in hearing classic 1960s era jazz played at the highest level.

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