Recent listening, current

Saturday, April 13, 2013

80. Jimmy Smith & Wes Montgomery / The Dynamic Duo (1966)

The arrangements by Oliver Nelson are assertive but don't sound as if they're intruding on the small group which is at the core of this session. Nelson's robust charts quickly give way to the main attraction, a reactive meeting of the Smith and Montgomery schools. If you liked the big band on Smith's The Cat then you'll appreciate this album's similar vibe. There's intense, crispy drumming from Grady Tate, occasionally complemented by Ray Barretto. Montgomery on rhythm is as impressive as he is on lead, like the high-octane percussive comping in "Down by the Riverside." There's a huge contrast between the two leaders. Montgomery's smooth, melodic lines are the ideal foil for Smith's fiery, organ revival. They play off each other well. Things appear to cool off with "Night Train," but a relaxed tempo only stokes the flames! The second side is more standards, first the dark chart of "13," followed by a lighthearted "Baby it's Cold Outside." If I listen to this too soon after Bags Meets Wes, I invariably wish Smith and Montgomery could have called Bags to join them. What if...

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