Wes always smiles. He was one of the most genial musicians ever. He had a challenging life, so he always seemed glad to be there, no matter where there was. It beat his factory job, and he knew it.
No one springs from Zeus’ head without being an amalgamation of things that came before. That being said, Wes Montgomery came as close to inventing an original method of playing the guitar as anyone I can think of. It’s the sort of thing that’s born of endless work in obscurity for long periods. Wes used to play the guitar after he got home from his blue-collar job, and he didn’t want to wake his wife and many kids. He used his thumb to gently strike the strings instead of a plectrum. It eventually led to half of his unusual sound.
The rest of it was this triptych soloing method. It was also born of playing alone for long periods. First comes a melody. Then he doubles it. Then he plays it passing through block chords. When you hear it, you think, “That’s Wes Montgomery, or someone trying to sound like Wes Montgomery.” He was trying to sound like more than one person at a time, and he didn’t play the piano.
The fellows are Europeans coalesced from whoever’s handy. They’re not prepared for the tempo, or the hole they have to fill when it’s their turn to solo. Wes just smiles. He’s familiar with playing with inferior talent, but soldiering on regardless. He played alone for a long time, and he must have been inferior for a few minutes, surely.
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