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Montgomery, Kelly excel in unreleased disc from vintage jazz era

Wes Montgomery with the Wynton Kelly Trio, "Smokin' in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse" (1966) (Resonance).

One of the classic guitar records in jazz history is the Wes Montgomery and Wynton Kelly record "Smokin': Live at the Half Note" ("the greatest jazz guitar record ever made" according to Pat Metheny).

All of it is sensational but its transcendental cut is their version of Coltrane's tune "Impressions." You won't find "Impressions" on this disc by the same group (with a different bassist) but to have previously unreleased live music by them in their glorious prime after more than a half century is huge jazz joy in a season which promises even more spectacular previously unheard music by jazz giants to come (would you believe a Thelonious Monk record not really widely heard before?)

These new disc discoveries on Zev Feldman's Resonance Records are some of the greatest brand new records of jazz from a vintage era now being released. This 1966 recording from a Seattle nightclub was originally a radio broadcast. All things considered, the sound is splendid.

What distinguishes these Resonance recordings above all others except for the Boxed sets on Mosaic are what can be found in the notes. The music, to be sure, is great and exciting Wes Montgomery/Wynton Kelly music but what you also find are new interviews with the disc's rhythm section, Jimmy Cobb and Ron McClure ("Wes was like Santa Claus" says McClure), pianist Kenny Barron (Kelly "had this really incredible kind of snappy touch, you know, very crisp") and, yes, Pat Metheny.

4 stars (out of four)


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