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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Down Here on the Ground

Verve 0602517995734



1. Wind Song
2. Georgia on my Mind
3. The Other Man's Grass is Always Greener
4. Down Here on the Ground
5. Up and At It
6. Goin' on to Detroit
7. I Say a Little Prayer for You
8. When I Look in your Eyes
9. Know It All
10. The Fox

Wes Montgomery - Guitar
Ron Carter - Bass
Grady Tate - Drums
Herbie Hancock - Piano
Bobby Rosengarden, Ray Barretto - Percussion
Mike Mainieri - Vibes
Gene Orloff, Raoul Poliakin - Violin
Emanuel Vardi - Viola
George Ricci - Cello
Hubert Laws, George Marge, Romeo Penque - Flute, oboe


Reissued in Verve's "Originals" series, this album was originally issued on the A & M label. It was recorded in December 1967 and January 1968 - only a few months before Wes Montgomery died. By this time, Wes was well established as a popular guitarist who disappointed hardcore jazz fans with what they regarded as his move into "easy listening" music. The album's producer was Creed Taylor, who was famous for smoothing out the rough edges of jazz and thereby widening its appeal.

Nonetheless, Wes Montgomery remained a significant jazz musician, with an instantly recognisable sound characterized by his use of the thumb (instead of a plectrum) for picking the guitar and the frequency with which he played in octaves. Sure, he was backed on this album by strings as well as jazz rhythm but he retains a sure jazz sensibility. Most of the arrangements are by Don Sebesky (with the exception of the title-track and Know It All, arranged by Eumir Deodato) and they put Montgomery at the centre of sympathetic backings.

Nearly all ten tracks are short, with only one exceeding four minutes, giving an album which lasts for barely 32 minutes. Yet the music is distinguished by its relaxed classiness. The repertoire includes pop songs like the Tijuana Brass's Wind Song and Burt Bacharach's I Say a Little Prayer, but there are also two film themes by Lalo Schifrin and a couple of bluesy originals (tracks 5 and 6) by Montgomery. Perhaps Wes gets closest to his jazz roots in these items and his laid-back interpretation of Georgia on my Mind. His accompanists include some fine jazzmen: notably pianist Herbie Hancock and drummer Grady Tate (whose drums spice up Goin' on to Detroit).

You can pigeonhole this album as "easy listening" if you wish but it's jazz which is easy to listen to, and I have no complaint with that.

Tony Augarde 

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