Monk Montgomery, in Sweden 1953
|Birth name||William Howard Montgomery|
October 10, 1921|
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||May 20, 1982
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
|Instruments||Bass guitar, double bass|
|Labels||MoJazz, Chisa, Philadelphia International|
|Associated acts||Wes Montgomery, Lionel Hampton, Cal Tjader, Red Norvo|
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Montgomery was the older brother of guitarist Wes Montgomery; younger brother, Buddy Montgomery played vibraphone and piano. The brothers released a number of albums together as the Montgomery Brothers. He also had an older brother, Thomas (died at 16), who played drums, and a younger sister, Ervena (Lena), who plays piano.
He is perhaps the first electric bassist of significance to jazz, introducing the Fender Precision Bass to the genre in 1951, although he was most famously seen playing the later Fender Jazz Bass, which became his signature instrument. Montgomery also played the double bass. His professional career did not start until after his younger brother Wes, at the age of 30. Wes worked in Lionel Hampton's Orchestra from 1948-1950, Monk then worked for Hampton from 1951-1953. Monk's recordings with The Art Farmer Septet on 2 July 1953 are some of the earliest recordings of the electric bass. Monk toured Europe with Hampton in late 1953. After that he worked with his brothers in the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet (with Alonzo "Pookie" Johnson, sax, and Robert "Sonny" Johnson, drums). In 1955 he moved to Seattle to form The Mastersounds from 1957 to 1960. Later, from 1966 to 1970, he freelanced with Cal Tjader and continued to play where he settled in Las Vegas, Nevada, with The Red Norvo Trio.
In 1970 he recorded in Los Angeles with African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. In 1974 he recorded his final solo album Monk Montgomery in Africa...Live! in Soweto. In 1977 he helped organise the inaugural Maseru Music Festival in Lesotho which included Dizzy Gillespie, students and staff from Rutgers University and local musicians. In his final years he was active in the Las Vegas Jazz Society, which he founded, he also presented a local radio show. He had also been planning a world jazz festival.
Montgomery died of cancer in Las Vegas on May 20, 1982. He had a wife, Amelia, three sons, and four stepchildren.
- It's Never Too Late (1969, MoJazz)
- Bass Odyssey (1971, Chisa)
- Reality (1974, Philadelphia International)
- Monk Montgomery in Africa...Live! (1974, Philadelphia International)
- The Montgomery Brothers and 5 Others (World Pacific, 1957)
- Montgomeryland (Pacific Jazz, 1958)
- Wes, Buddy And Monk Montgomery (Pacific Jazz, 1958)
- Wes Montgomery - Far Wes (Pacific Jazz, 1958), all tracks with Buddy and Monk.
- Wes Montgomery - Echoes of Indiana Avenue (Resonance, 2012), recorded 1958-59, one track with Buddy and Monk.
- The Montgomery Brothers (Fantasy, 1960)
- Groove Yard (Riverside, 1961)
- Wes Montgomery - Complete Live at Jorgies (Definitive, 2002), recorded 1961, six tracks with Buddy and Monk.
- The Montgomery Brothers In Canada (Fantasy, 1961)
- Jazz Showcase Introducing The Mastersounds (Pacific Jazz Records, PJM 403, 1957)
- The King And I (Pacific Jazz Records, PJM 405, 1957)
- Kismet (World Pacific, 1958)
- The Flower Drum Song (World Pacific, 1958)
- Ballads and Blues (Vogue Records, 1959)
- The Mastersounds in Concert (Vogue Records, 1959)
- Happy Holidays from many lands (World Pacific, 1959)
- The Mastersounds play Horace Silver (World Pacific, 1960)
- Swinging with The Mastersounds (Fantasy, 1961)
- The Mastersounds on Tour (Fantasy, 1961)
- A Date with The Mastersounds (Fantasy, 1961)
- Art Farmer - The Art Farmer Septet (Prestige, 1954) recorded 2 July 1953
- Lionel Hampton - four dates issued under various titles:
- Stockholm, Sweden, 14 September 1953, live [European Concert 1953 (IAJRC), and other releases]
- Basel, Switzerland, 25 September 1953, live [European Tour 1953 (Royal Jazz), and other releases]
- Paris, France, 28 September 1953, studio [The Complete Paris Session 1953 (Vogue), and other releases]
- Berlin, Germany, 4 October 1953, live
- Jerry Coker - Modern Music from Indiana University (Fantasy, 1956) recorded 1955
- Jon Hendricks - A Good Git-Together (World Pacific, 1959)
- Johnny Griffin - Do Nothing 'til You Hear from Me (Riverside, 1963)
- Hampton Hawes - The Green Leaves of Summer (Contemporary Records, 1964)
- Jack Wilson - Ramblin' (Vault, 1966)
- Eddie Harris - Silver Cycles (Atlantic, 1968)
- Hugh Masekela - Reconstruction (Chisa, 1970)
- The Jazz Crusaders - The Pacific Jazz Quintet Studio Sessions (Mosiac, 2005), recorded 1970
- Kenny Burrell - Ellington Is Forever Volume Two (Fantasy, 1975)
- Monk Montgomery - The Monk Montgomery Electric Bass Method (Studio 224, 1978)
- Allmusic biography
- "William (Monk) Montgomery, Bass Player With Hampton". The New York Times. May 22, 1982. Retrieved on May 5, 2008.