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Wes Montgomery

Biography

It's impossible to speak of jazz guitar without mentioning the great Wes Montgomery. Montgomery picked up where Charlie Christian left off, in developing the electric guitar as a jazz instrument. From 1958 until a decade later, Montgomery was the consummate Hard Bop guitar player. He blended the lightning-quick runs of Bop with an earthy, bluesy tone. His playing featured a folksy thumb-picking style, and he would often solo in octaves, both effects making his tone rounder and fuller. Montgomery composed two jazz standards, “Four on Six” and “West Coast Blues,” and recorded dozens of Bop albums. In the mid-'60s, Montgomery began playing more commercial jazz, recording instrumental versions of pop hits and enjoying considerable financial success. During his commercial period, he also began laying the groundwork for Fusion; unfortunately, he died in 1968, before Fusion ever hit its stride. Montgomery's influence is still felt in many areas of jazz.
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