Buddy Montgomery Is Gone

We did not intend Rifftides to be an obituary service. It would be simpler to avoid its seeming like one if treasured musicians would stick around. We cannot ignore their passing.
Buddy Montgomery.jpgThe latest loss is Buddy Montgomery, who died today at the age of 79. The youngest of the Montgomery brothers, he outlived guitarist Wes and bassist Monk by many years. Admired among musicians for his creativity as a pianist and vibraharpist, his example affected a number of younger players. The prolific pianist David Hazeltine credits Montgomery as a primary influence. In the course of a career that began in the late 1940s in his hometown of Indianapolis, Montgomery played with Big Joe Turner, Slide Hampton, Miles Davis, George Shearing, and The Mastersounds (with his brother Monk). He recorded often with his brothers and led several groups of his own.
The Montgomery Brothers’ Groove Yard album is one of their most celebrated. Groove Yard.jpgThe cover shows (l to r) Wes, Monk and Buddy. An extensive compilation of other music they recorded for the Riverside label has the deceptively similar name of Groove Brothers. Among Buddy Montgomery’s own CDs, Here Again is a standout. Go here for a full-length sample; Montgomery with his rich harmonies on piano playing “My Ideal.” Jeff Chambers is the bassist, Ray Appleton the drummer.

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  1. John Birchard says

    Sad to hear of Buddy Montgomery’s passing. Upon reading his death notice in Rifftides I thought of how much I still enjoy The Mastersounds’ Pacific Jazz LP of Horace Silver’s music.
    I also remember being excited to hear that Buddy was being considered for a spot in a Miles Davis group back in the early 60s. That was the period between the Coltrane group and the Hancock/Ron Carter/Tony Williams group when Miles was trying out various personnel.
    I’m glad you mentioned the Groove Yard LP by the Montgomery Brothers. That’s a particularly nice piece of work that shows off Buddy’s style to advantage. He was one of those mainsteam, solid artists who work and live their lives in cities far from the media spotlight, but who contribute far more than will ever be recorded. Thanks for reminding us.

  2. says

    Many thanks for noting Buddy’s passing, Doug. His Maybeck Hall CD is another fine leader date. It’s too bad that nearly all of the Mastersounds’ catalogue is currently out-of-print.

  3. JoAnn Petaschnick says

    Sad to hear of this great musician’s passing. I’d seen him perform many times at some of the jazz clubs in Milwaukee, when he lived there during the seventies. He, like his brothers, was wonderful.

  4. Red Colm O'Sullivan, jazzinreds@yahoo.co.uk says

    There’s a much later Landmark album, “So Why Not?”, produced by Orrin Keepnews, that I absolutley dote on. One side of this 1988 LP is a piano trio session with the great Ron Carter in PEAK form (and the fine drumming of Ralph Penland)… There’s a Buddy Montgomery reharmonisation of Harold Arlen’s “Out of This World” that has to be heard to be believed. Just miraculous in its soulful, earthy, grooving SOPHISTICATION, and for it’s imaginative brilliance. It’s a bona-fide masterpiece in my book, and has endeared Buddy Montgomery to me for the rest of my life. (And as for Ron Carter on this track… Whew…).

  5. Don Pender says

    Buddy and I have worked several times together. I remember when we were working at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco. Carl Burnnet and I use to go across the street to Encrico’s see Buddy and bring him apple pie and ice cream. He loved apple pie and ice cream. We would bring him back to the workshop to play with us and many nights he would just stay and play Buddy also worked with me at my club Storyville in San Francisco