Wes Montgomery Milt Jackson “Bags Meets Wes” (1961)

Track Selection: SKJ


Milt Jackson (vib) Wynton Kelly (p) Wes Montgomery (g) Sam Jones (b) Philly Joe Jones (d) recorded Plaza Sound Studios, NYC, December 18, 1961


This was my first Wes Montgomery record, and it was well said, that “Life is a moving target”. From time to time you should re-evaluate your opinions.Tastes change, you learn from what you hear, more than a few times I have been quite wrong about an artist or instrument, to my detriment. This record was the opportunity to rethink Bags and Wes

I don’t mind admitting to mixed feelings about Milt Jackson, due to what I think was the over-exposure of MJQ in their twenty year career .Their records lack “badness” and are not especially rare –  a fatal low-testosterone combination. Having a nickname like “Bags” (originating from “bags under the eyes”) probably doesn’t help either. Hey Big Nose, Big Ears, whatever, play dat piano!

Wes Montgomery I can remember listening to very briefly in the Sixties.   Acknowledged as one of the masters of the instrument, he enjoyed considerable commercial success with pop tunes through the mid Sixties, but left us for a better place in 1968. His chordal melodies and octave pairings were at the other end of the guitar musical spectrum from my own playing at the time, when I was honing upper register string-bending and vibrato technique on my Gibson Les Paul.

Thanks  to the solid groundwork of Philly Joe, Sam Jones, and the rippling piano of Wynton Kelly, the album has a gentle but firm swing to it, and the “soft” sympathetic tones of both guitar and vibraphone make a refreshing alternative to the sax-centric school of hard bop. It’s an enjoyable outing, which opens the door to other possibilities.

Vinyl: US original Riverside RLP 407 DG mono

Riverside US originals are usually very nice sounding pressings, and a nice pressing can often win you over where the music is not your usual fare. It sounds strange to say that good hi-fi can allow you to enjoy something you don’t usually like, but it’s true. It’s true for the same reason that has you reaching for the OFF switch where you hear a poor presentation of something you would normally like. Hearing good sound can be pleasurable in itself.

Collectors Corner

Nothing remarkable in the way of story, simply on a shelf in a second-hand store  at a reasonable price, in a slow week. Lots to enjoy. A good decision.

4 thoughts on “Wes Montgomery Milt Jackson “Bags Meets Wes” (1961)

  1. I have always been a Bags fan, having seen him several times and having listened to him on records. In addition to the MJQ, you might try a few more of him with his own group.
    Of Wes, not so much.

  2. Great post, it takes a big man to admit to changing his mind. Or a terminal ditherer.

    Nice track. I have a Ten Years After number with Alvin doing exactly the same intro riff. Must dig it out.


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