George Benson & Lee Ritenour – Wes Montgomery Tribute


George Benson and Lee Ritenour play together in a tribute to Wes Montgomery, originally broadcast in December of 1997. Benson plays “Tequilla”, followed by Ritenour playing “Four on Six”, and then they both play together at the end.

25 thoughts on “George Benson & Lee Ritenour – Wes Montgomery Tribute

  1. GeorgiaBoy1961

    @captainfink: @captainfink: Benson stated that Wes could play upstrokes and downstrokes with his thumb, which had a corn on the end, allowing him to avoid hitting the nail. Wes managed all tempos with only his thumb, but playing that way forces you to use more glisses, hammers, pull-offs, and ghost notes – which lends a more horn-like quality to your playing – which is good in jazz. I played jazz guitar thumb plus first 2 fingers only, for years, and it is very tough, but gives great tone.

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  2. GeorgiaBoy1961

    @HERB4441: Re: “George Benson has the ability to be one of the greatest jazz? guitarists in history.” HERB, I count myself as one of those folks who wishes GB would play straight-ahead more often, but he is – without doubt – already one of the greatest guitarists in the history of jazz, solely on what he has accomplished thus far. I know quite a few jazz cats who prefer GB over Wes as the greatest ever. Me? I’d take Wes as the greatest guitarist ever to play jazz, hands down. GB is bad, though.

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  3. GeorgiaBoy1961

    @xXironraiderXx: The jazz cats love to try and “cut” one another on the bandstand, but you can bet Rit wasn’t intimidated by GB, because his chops are off-the-chart, as GB’s are. Rather, he was deferring to Benson, the senior man and also generally acknowledged as the best jazz guitarist alive, or one of a handful in the discussion. Benson also knew Wes, so it is was fitting that he end the tune. Ritenour’s playing on this rendition is wonderful. You can tell GB was digging it.

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  4. GeorgiaBoy1961

    @akindofblue3 : Wes was a mentor to both GB and Pat Martino, as both were seasoned jazz performers by their late teens, and already on the road doing gigs as working guitarists. Both showed some Montgomery influence, but – as either GB or Pat Martino will tell you – accurately copping Wes is very tough, in fact almost impossible. That forced them to develop their own vocabularies and styles. In Benson’s case, he was influenced as much by Charlie Christian and Johnny Smith as Wes or Green.

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  5. GeorgiaBoy1961

    @Humanfactor7: Benson is getting close, but to really do Wes’ sound, you have to be able to do not only downstrokes but upstrokes as well, something almost no one can do well because of the thumbnail. Wes had a corn on the end of his thumb, which – according to Benson – allowed him to play upwards without hanging up on his thumbnail. IMHO, no one has ever really and truly mastered Wes’s sound, and it isn’t only his unique method of striking the strings; the man was a rare musical genius.

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  6. MrAkilwil

    @GeorgiaBoy1961 Shout out to Lee! He ‘s the best under-recognized out there. Needs to get his credit due with culturally aware music, more so than George. In fact, I think he has mastered Wes’ feel a a lot better in a more pure way. George is just more seen.

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  7. areyousureish

    Nice to see Benson playing with the thumb ala Wes. Benson and Ritenour are great. they should do more together.

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  8. GeorgiaBoy1961

    @MrGuy123123: Then don’t be mean. Lee Ritenour is very well-respected by many top players – including some in the jazz world. Expecting anyone to sound like Wes isn’t realistic; there was only one and we’ll never see another. It isn’t entirely fair to compare an artist to another artist; you can only be the best version of yourself. Wes would have agreed, by the way, as I am sure GB and Rit do.

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  9. GeorgiaBoy1961

    @HERB4441: Benson has nothing to prove to anyone concerning his jazz bona fides. Benson is arguably the greatest living jazz guitarist, and a world-class vocalist as well. Do I wish he’d do more straight-ahead music? Yep, but bebop is a recipe for starvation in today’s world… not enough people buy it to pay the bills. Benson can still bring it in hard-core jazz when he wants to, trust me…

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  10. GeorgiaBoy1961

    It isn’t easy to cop Wes’ sound – but GB and Lee Ritenour get darned close. Benson has that direct, living link to Wes like Pat Martino, because they were Wes’ proteges as young jazz stars. I wish these guys would tour together and play some jazz – it would be smokin’ music, I am sure. Catching GB playing jazz these days is like catching lightning in a bottle, though. Nice outros by both players…

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  11. davidgoodlettmusic

    @xXironraiderXx Jazz musicians have to feed their families too. He championed jazz for 20 years before he crossed over. And remember he was a vocalist before he ever was a guitarist. Plus some of his “cross over songs are outstanding music period. Affirmation is just one great example.

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  12. xXironraiderXx

    @HERB4441 if you had the opportunity and ability to sell millions of records worldwide you would “sell out” and play smooth jazz too.. he already owned straight ahead so he moved on with his career

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  13. chingjoba

    @HERB4441 what does GB or anyone else for that matter have to do then to be one of the greatest jazz guitarists in history? Cause you make it sound like he isn’t to which %100 of jazz guitarists would tell you otherwise.

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