This album has been in heavy rotation for me for quite some time. Jazz guitar is something I absolutely need more of so I picked this one up based on that and the killer cover. I mean seriously, just look at that funky cover. Anyway, this album is fantastic. The synergy between Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery is there instantly. Love the combination of Smith’s organ and Wes’ mellow, bluesy guitar. It’s a perfect example of oposites attracting and creating something better.
As usual I will only talk about a couple selections. The album begins with “Down by the Riverside” which was originally arranged by Oliver Nelson. This is a great starter for the album as it’s high energy and really allows Mr. Smith to do his thing. He solos first after the melody and comes out with fast fiery eight note flow immediately. I love when the hits come in after a few choruses. Here you really hear Smith reacting to the hits as well as Wes’ guitar comping. Montgomery solos next and immediately you hear the contrast verses Smith. It’s a bit more laid back, more blues riffs, it feels like relief. Like a breath of fresh air and an alternative to what we just listened to. They concluded the solo section by trading fours which, again, comes off fantastic. It’s not just two musicians competing against each other. They are building a solo and calling and responding to each others phrases.
Next I would like to look at “James and Wes” which is track three on the album. The melody is nice, simple, and rather short. Wes solos first and lays a nice bluesy vibe playing a few chords and nice melodic ideas throughout. However, with all due respect, Jimmy Smith steals the show on this one. Not only does he play some flat out burning lines. He does so with energy, flair, and ferocity. He doesn’t start off very fast and he slowly builds up to the pinnacle of his solo. Halfway through his solo though, he plays some extremely virtuosic lines. And near the end of his solo he sticks with the same riff and does things you don’t really hear any other organist do. His trading with Wes later on to conclude the tune is more of the same. He just makes you sit back and shake your head in awe.
Overall this album is a must own and an absolute joy to listen to. I have had a blast getting reacquainted with Wes Montgomery and hearing this unique combo. It’s also been fun watching people’s reaction while I played track five “Baby It’s Cold Outside” in the middle of July. Because of Wes Montgomery’s death only two years later, this album and its companion Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes, are all we have of this dynamic duo. Such a shame, but at least we have these albums to learn from and enjoy. I absolutely recommend adding both to your collection and not miss out anymore on this historic collaboration.