This thesis will describe three guitar techniques that Wes Montgomery used regularly in his solos and their textural effect on his improvised work. I will emphasize his approach, considered to be innovative for the period between1959 and 1970. Montgomery’s specific improvising style has come to be termed the “three tiered approach.” This approach allowed Montgomery to create a highly distinctive and individualized sound. This technique and style forged a new perspective on traditional jazz vocabulary. Using several transcriptions from Montgomery’s recordings, this thesis will examine the three tiers found in his solos: single lines for some choruses, melodic lines with octaves, and melodies harmonized with block chords. I will demonstrate how this approach created sound amplitude, nourished the texture, and increased the energy of Montgomery’s solos.
Wes Montgomery’s “Three Tiered Approach”: Texture Development in Jazz Guitar Improvisation