Terrence Brewer/Photo by J-notes.comI listened to your new album “Groovin’ Wes” everyday since I received it last week. Honestly, Terrence, it was the first time I’ve heard your work, and I couldn’t tear my ears always from the album. “Groovin’ Wes” impressed me that much. You put your heart and skills into every square inch of this recording, and I’m sure your fans appreciated you more for making this prefect tribute album. You can add me to your fan base. After I listened to “Groovin’ Wes,” I wanted to know more about your life. I searched the web for biographical information.
I read several articles that raved about your talents, but none offered basic information such as how you got started, who taught you to play, and who other than Montgomery influenced you musically. The biography on your website only cited your accomplishments, and excerpts from music critics who critiqued some of your live performances.
I read similar information on the trustworthy jazz website Allaboutjazz.com. I’m familiar with your accomplishments, but I’m still unfamiliar with your personal life. Are you married? Do you have kids? Were your parents musicians? What did you fall in love with first Jazz or the guitar? I found out you reside in Alameda, California, and you own a record labeled Strong Brew Records, which released your albums “The Calling Volumes One and Two,” and “Quintessential”.
Your plan for “Groovin’ Wes” was simple: “Lots of guitarist can imitate Wes Montgomery. I wanted to pay tribute to him with my own voice,” you said in the album’s press release. You kept your word, and somehow, you managed to channel Montgomery’s spirit. Throughout “Groovin’ Wes”, you played as if the guitarist was inside the recording studio coaching you. On “Road Song,” your staff organist Wil Blades and drummer Micah McClain were spunky as they raced up and down every chord change. You sound like you played two guitars at once on “Speak Low” and “Bumpin”. The ballad “In Your Own Sweet Way” was the showstopper. You damn near made your guitar cry.
You took on a big challenge, Terrence, tackling the music your idol immortalized. “Groovin Wes” made me reminisce about the first time I heard Montgomery. It was in the late 90’s. I was in the music department of the Detroit Public Library on Woodward Ave. I found a jazz album titled “Bags Meets Wes” by vibe player Milt Jackson and Montgomery. On the cover photo, both men wore hats, wool overcoats, and they hugged. I played that album over and over, trying to figure out how the musicians made the guitar and the vibraphone mesh. I never discovered how, but I admired the musicians anyway.
Yesterday, I purchased the current issue of Downbeat magazine. Montgomery graced the cover. I also bought two albums Montgomery made for Riverside Records “Boss Guitar” and “Full House Wes Montgomery Recorded Live at Tsubo-Berkeley, California”. I devoured both albums today. I ate the first album for breakfast and had the live one for lunch.
Downbeat magazine featured the 75 great guitarists, and Montgomery led the pack. The editors omitted many accomplished guitarists who deserved recognition. The editors re-published an article the jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason wrote in 1961, about Montgomery musical evolution and the guitarists Montgomery admired such as Charlie Christian, Barney Kessel and Tal Farlow. Terrence, if Montgomery was still alive and, had listened to “Groovin’ West,” I guarantee he would’ve loved it, and appreciated the care you employed honoring and perpetuating his music.