Important Anniversaries of 2023 Part I Wes Montgomery

Specially written by Irene Gómez for the Strings By Mail Articles.

In past years, this series celebrated worldwide anniversaries such as the 400 years of passing of Shakespeare and Cervantes and the publishing of the first books for vihuela, 100 years of the death of Scott Joplin and the passing of Claude Debussy, to name just a few.

This year, 2023, has offered the opportunity to realize some interesting and contrasting facts: such as the birth of West (Wes) Montgomery, Bach’s moving to Leipzig, Liszt arriving in Paris and the passing of the great American pedagogue Julia Crane. Let’s take a glance at some details of their lives in Parts 1 – 4 of our 2023 Anniversaries series.

Wes Montgomery, who has been considered one of the greatest jazz guitarists, was born on March 6, 1923 in Indianapolis. In the beginning he made his living working different day jobs and playing during the nights in local clubs. He started to play on a 4-string guitar, but after listening Charlie Christian he started all over again to learn how to play on a six-string guitar. He then developed his trademark technique of playing with the thumb leaving the other fingers usually to finish or connect harmonies. It was said that he developed his thumb technique for no other reason that to not bother his neighbors when he practiced, especially during the night! He performed with several jazz trios including one with his brothers Monk (double bass) and (Buddy piano and vibraphone). In 1965 he won the Grammy award with his sophisticated rendition of Going Out of My Head (Little Anthony & The Imperials) which was followed by a bestselling jazz LP in 1967, his 34:21 album “A Day in the life”, in which he performed with a symphonic orchestra, offering an impressive rendition of the Beatles song.

Montgomery | Guitar Anthology for jazz guitar

Wes Montgomery

Due to his style of creating and developing musical ideas, that he performed astonishingly only with the thumb, his harmonically aware horizontal motion of chords through the fret board with a subtle subtle rhythm that he sometimes suggested to his fellow players, he is considered some years after Charlie Christian the guitarist that brought the jazz guitar to an almost unequaled level of artistry for the instrument.

He passed away at the still young age of 45 years, leaving a legacy that has been admired and praised by great successor guitarists such as Pat Metheny and Carlos Santana, among many others who have admired and paid tribute to this great artist and guitarist. His performances, where he presented himself with simplicity and a smile while playing along with his inevitable cigarette, created a unique image never forgotten by his hundreds of thousand followers, including myself.

General: The New Grove Dictionary of music and musicians. Second Edition. Oxford University Press 2001.
Swede F. John, Jazz 101, Hyperion, New York, NY, 2000

Irene Gomez - Some Important 2023 Anniversaries

Irene Gómez

Classical guitarist Irene Gómez regularly contributes to Strings By Mail through her teaching and performance videos as well as articles. She is a Strings By Mail Sponsored Artist, teaches guitar at the National University in Bogotá, Colombia, and performs worldwide. She recently released her fifth CD “Songs of My Life / Canciones de Mi Vida“.

Previous Irene Gomez anniversary articles:
2019 2016 2017 2018

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