The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wes Montgomery & Domaine du Pas de l'Escalette

Hump day and tonight I’m featuring one of the greatest jazz guitarist ever. Wes Montgomery was born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1925 and took up the electric guitar at age nineteen. He taught himself how to play by memorizing Charlie Christian solos off records. Once he had his chops down pat, he got his first job playing in a local band where, by his own account, his job was to play the Charlie Christian solos.
By 1948 he got a job in the Lionel Hampton big band and went on the road with Hampton for two years. Montgomery left The Hampton band in 1950 and returned to Indiana where he worked with his brothers and other local bands, including his own trio. He recorded his first record as a leader in 1959 when he made “The Wes Montgomery Trio.” Between 1959 and 1963 a succession of his recordings appeared that to this day represent some of his best work. Among these recordings were “The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery,” “The Wes Montgomery Trio” and “Full House.” During this same period he made a set of recordings with his brothers that remain jazz classics today.
After 1963, Montgomery began recording for Verve and A & M Records and the recordings took on a very different production quality aimed more at the mass music markets. Orchestration was added, more pop tunes were covered, and in 1965, he won a Grammy for his recording of “Going Out Of My Head.”
Wes Montgomery had a superb sense of melody and made common jazz standards sound fresh. His improvisational skills were second to none. His characteristic tone was achieved by using his thumb rather than a pick. Wes died suddenly of a heart attack in 1968, leaving behind a legacy that changed the guitar's place in popular culture. I love his style and you will too.

With a classic like Wes, I’d like to introduce you to another classic, yet little known wine,  the 2009 Domaine du Pas de l’Escalette from the fledgling estate owned by Julien Zernotte in the Terrasses du Larzac in the Rhone valley of France. The wine is featured in Pierre Gagnaire’s 3-star Michelin restaurant and is on the wine list of arguably the greatest restaurant in the world, Chez Bras. The wine is deep ruby colored with aromas of black cherry, spice, and pepper. It’s silky and concentrated with flavors of dark berries, cherry cream, and a smooth texture. The long finish makes your mouth water for more, and at $14.00 a bottle, it should be illegal. All in all, an excellent wine and the perfect accompaniment to one of the greatest jazz guitarist of all time, Mr. Wes Montgomery. Enjoy!


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