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jazzfan's picture
Last seen: 4 years 7 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Great Sounding Jazz Guitar (non-audiophile)

As a continuation of this thread Thank you, Art Dudley here is a short list of great sounding jazz guitar recordings featuring well known and highly respected musicians. These recordings are all on non-audiophile record labels, which means that they can be purchased at real world prices rather than at the insanely high audiophile record label prices. Please be assured that these records all feature great sound and excellent music but since they are on non-audiophile labels you will not be able to bring them along with you to your favorite audio show. However, you can still discreetly enjoy them in the comfort of your own home.

Wes Montgomery - Movin' Wes

(Verve) As with Kenny Burrell there is a boat load of really good Wes Montgomery recordings so picking one is just a matter of spinning the wheel, so to speak. "Movin' Wes" features Wes with a small brass orchestra playing a mix of standards, pop tunes and original. Montgomery's guitar is well recorded and the brass section never overwhelms either Wes or the rhythm section. Another good Montgomery recording is the two CD compilation "Impressions: The Verve Jazz Sides".

Kenny Burrell - Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane

(Prestige) Five outstanding tunes played by five great musicians, what's not to like? Along with John Coltrane (tenor sax) and Kenny Burrell (guitar) are Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums), and Tommy Flanagan (piano). Tommy Flanagan's "Freight Trane", which opens the recording is a hard bop classic. Sound? Originally recorded by the great Rudy Van Gelder in 1958 the sound is outstanding - clean and perfectly balanced.

John McLaughlin - After the Rain

(Verve) Like Pat Metheny McLaughlin has a huge fan base and a deep catalog, this recording from 1994 fins him a guitar/organ/drums trio setting alongside the great Elvin Jones and Joey DeFrancesco. The nine tracks feature six tunes closely associated with John Coltrane, which, combined with the presence of Elvin Jones, makes this recording into a Coltrane tribute. Well recorded with Jones' cymbals crackling along nicely, McLaughlin's very clean electric guitar tone captured perfectly and DeFrancesco's organ not too "upfront" this date is winner all around.

Pat Metheny - 80/81

(ECM) - this has long been one of my favorite Metheny recordings. 80/81 features the outstanding quintet of Metheny, bassist Charlie Haden, tenor saxophonists Dewey Redman and Michael Brecker and drummer Jack DeJohnette. They play seven original compositions plus Ornette Colemen's "Turnaround" - all with plenty of fire and recorded in the classic ECM style. This recording proved to the jazz world that Metheny can play great jazz in almost any style he chooses.

Eugene Chadbourne - The Hills Have Jazz

(Boxholder) I admit that Chadbourne is not a household name but that doesn't make him any enjoyable. While Chadbourne's playing is heavily influenced by Derek Bailey, Chadbourne is much more of a joker than Bailey and his music, while equally dense, is more prone to using odd sounds and tunings to make his point. This recording, dedicated to the horror film director Wes Craven, is filled with all of Chadbourne's trademark guitar manipulations as he wens his through 8 compositions.

Derek Bailey - Ballads

(Tzadik) This is perhaps the most unusual recording in Bailey's entire catalog since on it he plays "standards". Playing a very well recorded solo acoustic guitar Bailey explores 14 standard ballads as only he can. I was going to write something along the lines of "filtered through Bailey's unique style" however what Bailey does isn't "filtering" but more like the reverse of filtering since what starts out as a nice clean melody line ends being both fractured and "dirtied" with all kinds new and different sounds. And all without losing the simple and lovely melodies at the heart of these compositions.

Pat Martino - Consciousness

(Muse) - Somehow I managed to leave Martino off my list in the original post (see link above) so to correct this oversight here's one of him best recordings. featuring Martino in a quartet setting, these seven tracks (plus a bonus track on the recent reissue) are all gems. Martino style is an almost perfect cross of the heavy chord based style of Wes Montgomery with the single note style of Kenny Burrell. And well recorded. Highly recommended.

Emily Remler - Catwalk

(Concord) - Another great jazz guitar player that I failed to mention but who should be overlooked. Catwalk is about as close to perfection as a jazz guitar can get: great compositions, first class playing and excellent sound. A winner all the way around. If you have never heard of Emily Remler or are unfamiliar with her sound be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

dcstep's picture
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Joined: Sep 16 2007 - 4:59pm
Re: Great Sounding Jazz Guitar (non-audiophile)

Jazzfan, it's good to see you deep into the idiom. I thought only other guitarists had Emily's stuff. I love her albums on the Justice label. You mention her Concord album, which reminds me of Canadian guitarist Ed Bickert. Concord had a duet series and Ed was teamed up with pianist Bill May. That's a "must have" in my book, with great sonics and even better music.

"Nice and Easy" with Ella and Joe Pass is another stunning album. It's just glorious vocal with tasty guitar backgrounds. Without looking, I think it's on Verve. I have a 45 rpm reissue that's incredible, but it's also available on SACD and CD.

I'll try to grab a handful of my the best sounding CDs that you haven't listed. "Montgomery Brothers" comes to mind right now, but there are many others.


jazzfan's picture
Last seen: 4 years 7 months ago
Joined: Sep 8 2005 - 8:55am
Re: Great Sounding Jazz Guitar (non-audiophile)

My "knowledge" of jazz guitar does not come from me being "deep into the idiom" of jazz guitar (which I'm really not) but is more likely due to the fact that as a teenager in the early 1970's I first dabbed my toe into the waters of jazz by exploring the electric side of jazz via Miles Davis and other fusion bands. Coming from a rock music background, where electric guitar is the primary instrument, carrying that guitar based mentality over into jazz meant that I've always had an ear out for good guitar players, regardless of musical genre.

AndyT's picture
Last seen: 12 years 2 weeks ago
Joined: Jan 29 2006 - 12:52pm
Re: Great Sounding Jazz Guitar (non-audiophile)

I'm not sure how "great" sounding the following are. But they're some of my favorite jazz guitar recordings:

Grant Green's Idle Moments with Bobby Hutcherson & Joe Henderson, the Sonny Clark sessions (Gooden's Corner, Nigeria, Oleo & Born To be Blue), Feelin' The Spirit with Herbie Hancock, Matador with Elvin Jones & McCoy Tyner & Solid with Tyner, Jones, Joe Henderson & James Spalding.

Joe Pass's Catch Me & For Django.

Barney Kessel-On Fire. A live set from the mid-'60s with Kessel stretching out a lot more than he did on his Contemporary studio sessions.

Tony Purrone-In The Heath Zone. A piano-less quartet with great support from Nick Brignola on various reeds.

Michael Musillami-Glass Art & The Young Child. Both with Thomas Chapin on reeds.

Wes Montgomery's live Paris '65 performance was most recently reissued by Definitive Records. 2 CDs with Harold Mabern on piano & Johnny Griffin guesting on several tracks. Like the Kessel disc, Montgomery really stretches out here.

Anthony Wilson-Our Gang & Savivity. Both produced by Joe Harley but definitely not "audiophile" recordings.

Also chck out Dave Stryker's things on Steeplechase & Mel Bay.


59mga's picture
Last seen: 4 years 10 months ago
Joined: Jun 21 2006 - 6:52am
Re: Great Sounding Jazz Guitar (non-audiophile)


Some great choices!
I have the original Verve vinyl of "Movin' Wes". Being too young, back in the 60's, when it was released my older brother introduced me to jazz guitar via this album

I, also, have the Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane album you mention...more wonderful music. Along with a mixture of Metheney and McLaughlin.

Not being familiar with the others you mention I will certainly give them a listen.

Thanks for the selection.

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