50 comments on “The Greatest Jazz Guitarist?

  1. If Not ? Not a chance ! Wes goes back to the foundation of why I play guitar . Are there other greats . Joe Negri from my home town of Pittsburgh is our Local Legend . New breed ? Although a diverse Guitarist , when Max Schang plays Django or One of the other legends Music ; He Himself shows himself to be a future legend . Stanley Jordan gets applause from me ; by virtue of His 2 handed playing that is the envy of many Metal guitarists .

  2. My first album was “Wes and his brothers”. From that point on I was hooked. The lesser known Ed Bickertt comes to mind as a fantastic player. Kenny Burell, George Benson and Larry Coryell are up there too.

  3. I would say that there are many great players and to define one as the greatest does an in justice to all of the other wonderful players. if you want to think in terms of who had the most influence on Jazz Guitar then you would have to include names like Django, Eddie Lang, Charlie Christian, there were many many great payers before Wes was even born, taking nothing away from Wes for he is certainly without question one of the greatest players ever.

  4. Wes Montgomery is one of the great guitar, but I would like to nominate two other greats of this instrument have personally influenced me: Joe Pass and John Scofield

  5. The best? No one player is the best. But at certain moments on record or live they seam to channel the voice of God. In terms of technique I would say listen to I concentrate on you by Chuck Wayne from his last LP. Also George Van Eps was never caught on record at half of what I heard him play live.
    Some nights Joe Pass was just as good as my favorite Wes. Some of the recordings by Wes are not up to snuff. I saw Tal Farlow at his hottest daddy o! And also saw him play merely well.
    Barney Kessel was a beautiful soul with interesting chords and moving voices on the ballads.
    The best thing about hero worship is it helps keep the field free of mediocre players..

  6. No love for Pat? I wouldn’t say he’s better than Wes or Django, but I would have thought he would have been mentioned by now.

  7. There is no doubt that Joe Pass is the number one.
    Than Wes Montgomery and George Benson shares the podium!

  8. Well, as a jazz guitarist myself, most of the players in the discussion would have so much mutual respect that they would tend to eschew the label. Its a fun topic for fans, but we rarely sit around and say who was the greatest painter. Its an art form. I love Wes. he is one of my favorites and has had more influence than most. I had the honored privilege of playing his guitar in the photo above. He was special. So are many others. Thank God He lets us play His music.

  9. Wes would be at the too of the list. I believe most “jazz” guitarist see him as an original as we try to copy his lines he seemed to Blaze his own path.
    Over the last few years Emily Remler has been my focus. I feel like she was on a path and I hear Wes influences in her music. So many Great guitarist that I find it hard to say greatest ever, but Wes would be the name I’d choose.

  10. Hi there,I think we must place Wes among the greatest musicians in the history of the instrument,side by side with Andres Segovia,Paco de Lucia,Jimi hendrix……Now If we must speak about Afro-American music history he is the “father”.Of course before him there is so many good players,but after him you easily see the ‘birth’ of so many important cats…(Benson,Burrell….etc).When he puts his fingers on the guitar……..WOW…….something out of this world starts happening.Don’t forget Joe Pass & Pat Martino…………Vibes….!!!!!!!

  11. Here’s the thing about the truly greats of almost any art form- they have succeeded in becoming the full potential of their personality. Could Wes be any better at sounding like “Wes”? You recognize his style immediately as you do with Johnny Smith, Django, Joe Pass et. al. There is really no sense in comparing as to who’s greater- that’s like debating whether the color red is better than the color blue. They take you into their world and you go on this great ride-sometimes I feel like listening to Wes, sometimes Django, sometimes Tal. They are all the greatest at being themselves.

  12. With so many great guitarist It’s a very hard choice. I put Wes in the top 3 with George and Pat Martini. But lets not forget Grant GreenGreen and may God rest Detroit’s own great Robert Lowe.

  13. I believe in the “golden thumb”. I’ve heard most of the other great guitarist play. Some are more technically sound. However, Wes created a sound to the guitar that didn’t exist before. It elevated the voice of the instrument and added another dimension in sound. Those octaves forever changed the game!. No one plays them better them him!. No one bops like Wes!. The others have not influenced the masses (jazz guitarist) as he has. He is without a dought for these reasons- the Greatest!.

  14. Lazz it’s not sport…it’s art… Please don’t be a kid… All of them , and others are good… I prefer one depending the day and feel.
    There’s no podium !!!
    Greetings

  15. I would definitely say Wes Montgomery first… then w/o a doubt, Pat Metheny. Not only Pat’s unique voice and form, but his ability to compose is second to none since the mid 70’s. Pat is probably the best all around musician too out of all of these guys.

  16. While they’re can’t be a greatest, there can be those who inspire us the most and they will always have a place in jazz history as legends, so I want to try and mention everyone who’s had an influence on me: Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt, John McLaughlin, John Stowell, Jimmy Smith, Biréli Lagrène, Grant Green, Herb Ellis, Joe Pass, Charlie Christian, Freddie Green, George Benson, Kenny Burrell, Emily Remler, Dhafer Youssef, Joe Puma, Jimmy Bruno, and Frank Zappa (I don’t know if he played jazz on guitar, but I know he composed it and he’s a damn good musician worth mentioning). That’s all I can name off the top of my head.

  17. Of course there have been many great jazz guitarists, and to single out any one as the “greatest” is an exercise in futility; it ignores their individual gifts. However, Wes is one of those individuals who have had an impact on several generations of players. Here in Philadelphia, one of our “local legends”, Pat Martino, who himself was mentored by Wes, has achieved international fame and is now influencing present and future generations of jazz players.

  18. Wes was a master guitarist. He could play single note solos as well or better than most guitarists. I have heard nobody on guitar who can play octaves and block chords like Wes Montgomery. I’ve heard him live many times and he was the only guitarist I ever heard who could do “impossible” stuff while playing the guitar. I’ve seen and heard most of the greats.

  19. Wes was the pioneer for everything that followed him. Although we have had many talented musicians in the years after, its the people that influence you that define how good you are going to be. Wes’ sound was fresh and it was new, and for the jazz guitarists that have followed, he is the standard.

  20. Dan Balmer, a master jazz player in Portland, Oregon, said that when he listens to Wes, he doesn’t hear guitar; he just hears music. There are many jazz guitarists that I love (Pass, Hall, etc.), but I think Wes remains in a category of his own. I don’t know if that means that he’s the best of all time, but he’s certainly the best at being Wes Montgomery.

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