Wes Montgomery / California Dreaming – Cisco Reviewed

More of the Music of Wes Montgomery

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Guitar

Sonic Grade: C

Beware any and all imitations, even this one, which I admit I used to like somewhat. They barely BEGIN to convey the qualities of the real master tape the way the best pressings do. Our Hot Stampers exhibit huge amounts of ambience and spaciousness, with far more energy and the kind of “see into the studio” quality that only the real thing seems to have.

Note especially how so much musical information is coming from the far sides of the soundfield on the best copies. The Cisco reissue makes a mockery of that wall to wall sound, sucking it into the middle and flattening it into a single plane.

To be fair — and I always am — the Cisco did beat and will beat many of the copies you might run across. There is a very simple explanation for this: Verve is probably the most poorly mastered label in the history of the world. No other label produced so many wonderful sounding recordings that were turned into lousy sounding LPs — I could list them for days.

Verve Problems

Even though we’ve had a bad case of Verve fatigue here at Better Records for a very long time, this album is so special that we took a chance on an open copy at a local store a few years ago, and I’m sure glad we did. It was Out of This World. It blew the doors off the Cisco pressing that we used to like (and recommended) back in 2007. I never knew the album could sound like that.

And now, after a two year hiatus, Hot Stampers for California Dreaming are back.

Everything that’s good about this era of RVG’s recordings as well as Wes’s music and those glorious Don Sebesky arrangements is here. For my part let me just say that this is the best sounding Wes Montgomery album I have ever played. Musically it’s my personal favorite of his as well.


Side One

California Dreamin’ 
Sun Down 
Oh You Crazy Moon
More, More Amor 
Without You

Side Two

Winds of Barcelona 
Green Peppers 
Mr. Walker 
South of the Border

CD Universe Review

As Wes Montgomery sailed into ever-poppier waters towards the end of his career, two things remained constant: he kept writing and including original tunes on his albums, and he kept playing and including the blues in one shade or another.

Thus, on CALIFORNIA DREAMING, another big band-orchestrated Verve album, we get “Sun Down,” a six-minute original blues, cut for the most part with just the first-call rhythm section of Herbie Hancock, Richard Davis, Grady Tate and Ray Baretto. The other original, “Mr. Walker,” is just as cooking, and dates from Montgomery’s second Riverside album, the aptly titled INCREDIBLE JAZZ GUITAR OF WES MONTGOMERY.

Recorded at Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, New Jeresy on Sepetmber 14-16, 1966.

Personnel includes: Wes Montgomery (guitar); Don Sebesky (arranger, conductor); Jack Jennings (vibraphone, percussion); Herbie Hancock (piano); Al Casamenti, Buck Pizzarelli (guitar); Richard Davis (bass); Grady Tate (drums); Ray Baretto (percussion).