Berks Jazz Fest 2006: Tribute To Wes Montgomery

Berks2006_WesTributeChuckLo.jpgThe festival was concluded by the star-studded Tribute To Wes Montgomery concert, celebrating the music of the late great Wes Montgomery. The evening was put together by guitar player Chuck Loeb and featured a stunning array of world class guitar players. Lined up for the first song were Russell Malone, Paul Jackson Jr., Pat Martino, Chuck Loeb, Jimmy Bruno, Earl Klugh and Larry Carlton - pretty impressive, isn't it? They were backed by Wolfgang Haffner on drums, Will Lee on bass and Matt King on keys. All players had a personal relationship with Wes Montgomery, often having met him personally. Needless to say, the playing of all those artists was profoundly influenced by this seminal player. Especially Pat Martino, who met Wes at the tender age of 14 for the first time, this being an encounter which had an impact on his professional life, then meeting a second time a few years later, after a nightclub show together with Grant Green, George Benson, Les Paul who were standing outside discussing - so you know where this music is coming from! It almost felt like a history lesson in music by people who were personally involved. Additionally, Chuck Loeb managed to track down Montgomery�s family, and his son Robert came to the stage, speaking a few touching words about his father whom he lost much too early. All the players chose their favorite songs from the Wes library and brought their renditions, each with his own spin and style of playing. Most of the players were straight ahead players, especially Jimmy Bruno, Pat Martino and Russell Malone strutting their stuff, while Paul Jackson Jr. proved to be an accomplished jazz guitarist, retaining his crossover appeal. Larry Carlton couldn't help but play a blues number, while Earl Klugh delivered a beautiful song on acoustic guitar showing masterful playing of the highest level. Chuck Loeb held it all together and proved to be a very consummate musician which I hold in high esteem. Another superlative show which was one of its kind and a special opportunity to witness.