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  Listen Up! 12/17/02 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Dec. 17

Wes Montgomery, “Quintessential Wes,” Fuel 2000 Records. If you look at the package on the shelves, you’re gonna be wondering just what this is. I assumed it was some sort of collection culled from various albums, but, nope, it’s a live concert from 1965. Montgomery made a lot of crappy recordings around this time, but live, he could tear up the guitar; witness his version of Coltrane’s “Impressions,” which has some of the spirituality and a whole lot of improvisational fury. Then along comes the great tenor saxophonist Johnny Griffin to steal the show on a couple cuts. This is a fine addition to Montgomery’s legacy as one of the finest jazz guitarists in history.

Various Artists, “A Very Bert Dax Christmas,” Bert Dax Records. I like a lot of people who recorded material for this St. Louis showcase, but I don’t think any of them come close to striding with their best feet forward. Shambly is the word that comes to mind, though I’m not sure if that word is a real one.

Franklin Bruno, “A Cat May Look at A Queen,” Absolutely Kosher Records. Here’s a very interesting songwriter who hasn’t exactly made an interesting record. The songs are crying out for a better singer, and more imaginative arrangements. The ideas are good, the execution dry. A far better example of how good he is comes on the new album by Jenny Toomey, which consists of Bruno songs done better than he probably did them himself. I say probably because this is the only one of his records I’ve ever actually heard.

Some collection of “Electric Slide” beats Tom put on without telling us what it is. I’ve never disliked the “Electric Slide” the way a lot of people I know do. But, I’ve never gone crazy over it, either. This is a more interesting collection of variants on the beat than I’ve heard before, but I don’t think I’ll ever ask to hear it again.

--Steve Pick



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