Wes Montgomery

A hugely influential figure, Wes Montgomery's innovative jazz guitar technique had a big influence on later generations of guitarists, notably Jimi Hendrix, George Benson, Pat Metheny, Kenny Burrell and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He was born into a musical family (his brothers Monk and Buddy played bass and piano respectively and performed together as the Montgomery Brothers) although Wes didn't start playing guitar until he was 19. Inspired by Charlie Christian, he played in clubs by night while working long hours in a factory by day and was discovered by sax player Cannonball Adderley, who recommended him to Riverside Records. Montgomery toured with Lionel Hampton and John Coltrane but built his reputation as a jazz guitar great fronting his own trio and quartets, and mixing up-tempo swing with romantic balladry. His Fusion album in 1963 marked a significant leap into a broader style, playing for the first time with string arrangements by Jimmy Jones. After more than a dozen albums for Riverside Montgomery joined the Verve label to release his 1964 album Moving Wes and launch a new era working with brass and strings. His 1965 album Bumpin' was considered a template for the "smooth jazz" movement and when he moved to the A&M label in 1967 to release A Day In The Life Montgomery appeared to abandon jazz entirely for pop, upsetting hardcore fans with covers of show tunes and Beatles hits. The title track was a hit single and it was the best-selling jazz album of 1967 but commercial success was shortlived, as he died of a heart attack the following year, aged 45.

Related Artists

Stations Featuring Wes Montgomery

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.