If you want to name legends from the history of jazz guitar, Wes Montgomery is one of the first names that will come to your mind. Every jazz lover has a favourite Wes Montgomery album according to the period that he/she is interested in. From the classics, Smokin’ at The Half Note or Incredible Jazz Guitar or with Jimmy Smith’s Dynamic Duo or CTI era recordings must have come to your ears from somewhere.
Chicago based guitarist Tim Fitzgerald is a musician who admires Wes Montgomery very much. Is there anything more beautiful than walking the footsteps of the musician you admire? To this end, he has been working for more than 20 years to analyse Montgomery’s idiosyncratic, stylish and sensuous music. As part of these efforts, he has written the book 625 Alive: the Wes Montgomery BBC Concert Transcribed in 2009. The effort to grasp the essence of music via this album allows us listeners to feel the spirit of Montgomery through Fitzgerald’s virtuosic hands. We are listening to Montgomery compositions with Fitzgerald, Victor Garcia and Chris Madsen arrangements at Tim Fitzgerald’s Full House, which will be released via Canadian record company Cellar Live on September 16.
In the album, guitarist Fitzgerald is accompanied by Victor Garcia on trumpet, Greg Ward II on alto saxophone, Chris Madsen on tenor saxophone, Tom Vaitsas on piano, Christian Dillingham on bass and George Fludas on drums. The album was recorded at Transient Sound Recording Chicago and produced by Cory Weeds with Fitzgerald. Sound engineer Vijay- Tellis Nayak takes part in the recording, while Rich Breen handles the mixing and mastering.
In all the teachings that we can regard, including Eastern philosophy, the most important step in the effort to create oneself is the effort to know the master and walk on his path. Fitzgerald’s mentor, Montgomery, would probably have enjoyed this album had he been alive. Because he would accept this album as a love letter to himself. Fitzgerald describes the most important building blocks of this album as Barry Harris and Rodney Jones. Sharing their wisdom and expertise, they have been a unique mentor to Fitzgerald.
The album also includes the two indispensable tracks of Montgomery’s discography, Four on Six and Fried Pies. “Four on Six” is, it refers to a 4/4 rhythm superimposed over a rhythm of 6/8. This piece Four on Six is an extremely catchy jazz standard. Fried Pies is another jazz classic whose tempo does not slow down for a second and that master musicians frequently visit and pay their respects.
Fitzgerald as a great rhythm section arranger and a performer who has worked with names like Von Freeman, Wycliffe Gordon, Ron Perrillo, Makaya McCraven, Marquis Hill and Denis Charles, he successfully commemorates the spirit of Montgomery, not only as a good guitarist but also as an arranger and band leader. As Fitzgerald stated, this is not an album that replicates Montgomery’s sound. He is aware that he has no such aim and that it is not likely, but in this way he tries to establish a connection with Montgomery’s music.
An album that interprets Montgomery’s compositions with the respect they deserve.