Song:Polka Dots and Moonbeams
Album:The Best of Wes Montgomery
Many jazz purists prefer guitarist Wes Montgomery's Riverside recordings from 1959-63 to his later Verve and A & M recordings because there are no strings. So I wanted to recommend a budget CD of his Riverside recordings because Montgomery's recordings are essential for jazz fans and especially aspiring guitarists. In the mid-50s, Montgomery recorded with his brothers Monk and Buddy as The Montgomery Brothers on Pacific Jazz Records. Riverside Records producer Orrin Keepnews signed Montgomery to a solo contract in 1959. Polka Dots and Moonbeams is from the 1960 album The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery. It was his fourth album on Riverside and is considered by many fans to be his best album. A lot of the credit for that should go to pianist Tommy Flanagan who is probably one of the best jazz accompanists of all time. He went on to be Ella Fitzgerald's musical director. On bass is Percy Heath of Modern Jazz Quartet along with his brother Albert Heath on drums. At that time, Albert was in a band led by his other brother sax player Jimmy Heath. All three recorded as The Heath Brothers in the 70s. Of course Polka Dots and Moonbeams is a Jimmy Van Heusen song that was Frank Sinatra's first hit after he joined Tommy Dorsey. It's a jazz standard. The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery is available on CD. But I suggest this 2004 budget CD The Best of Wes Montgomery for an overview of his Riverside years. Most of Montgomery's Riverside albums were straight ahead jazz because Keepnews preferred that kind of sound. When Riverside went bankrupt in 1963, Montgomery signed with Verve Records and producer Creed Taylor and Taylor produced more elaborate recordings. Though jazz fans didn't like the addition of strings, his Verve albums sold better. Either way, Wes Montgomery was very influential and it's just sad that he died prematurely in 1967. Here's a video for Polka Dots and Moonbeams by Wes Montgomery.