This is a special 20-bit digital master of the original tapes.
Personnel: Jimmy Smith (organ); Wes Montgomery (guitar); Oliver Nelson (conductor); Jerry Dodgion (alto saxophone, clarinet, flute); Bob Ashton (tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute, alto flute); Phil Woods, Danny Bank (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, flute, alto flute); Clark Terry (trumpet, flugelhorn); Jimmy Maxwell, Joe Newman, Ernie Royal (trumpet); Jimmy Cleveland, Quinten Jackson, Melba Liston (trombone); Tony Studd, Dick Hixson (bass trombone); Jerome Richardson (clarinet, alto & tenor flutes); Richard Davis (bass); Grady Tate (drums); Ray Barretto (conga, jingle bells).
Recorded at Van Gelder Recording Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on September 21, 23 & 28 1966. Includes liner notes by Michael Ullman.
This is part of Verve's Master Edition series.
Oliver Nelson arranged and conducted the tunes for this album; his three big-band charts essentially consist of a few heavy choruses up front, after which the horns get out of the way so Jimmy and Wes can do their their thing. Montgomery and Smith also do two quartet numbers with Grady Tate on drums and Ray Barretto on congas. As a result, there's plenty of real jazz here, unlike some other Creed Taylor-produced Montgomery records.
In retrospect, it's surprising that this this meeting of the masters didn't happen sooner, as Montgomery and Smith were remarkably similar in some ways. Each man was considered a pioneer whose blinding technique defied all preconceptions of what was possible on his instrument. Moreover, each tempered a dizzying capacity for note-perfect bebop with a healthy shot of the blues. Montgomery's insistent riffing behind Smith's solo on "Down By the Riverside" is a case in point, as is his own impeccably constructed solo on the blues "James and Wes." At moments like these one can't help but wonder what anyone thought an extra fourteen horns could possibly add to this session.