Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Buddy and Monk Montgomery, along with their more celebrated brother Wes, rivaled the Heath family as jazz's most prolific family act. Pianist/vibraphonist Buddy (1930-2009), bassist Monk (1921-1982), and guitarist Wes (1923-1968) played together in two well-known and other lesser-known groups. Monk was the first jazz musician to specialize on and record with the electric bass, which he began playing in the early '50s on tour with Lionel Hampton's big band. Buddy was a soulful, underrated pianist and vibist, effective in bebop, hard bop, blues, or soul-jazz situations. The three brothers worked together in the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet with Alonzo Johnson and Robert Johnson in the mid-'50s, and then as the Mastersounds from 1957 to 1960 and the Montgomery Brothers in 1960 and 1961. Monk returned to acoustic bass, but then went back to electric in the mid-'60s playing with Cal Tjader. He settled in Las Vegas in 1970, and played with Red Norvo until 1972. He worked as a disc jockey and started the Las Vegas Jazz Society, while also visiting South Africa as the leader of an African-American jazz group in the mid-'70s.
Buddy Montgomery played piano in a group with Slide Hampton during the early '50s, then worked with Roy Johnson in a quartet in 1954, prior to the formation of the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet. After the other groups with his brothers disbanded, he divided his time on the two instruments until 1969, then chose piano full-time. Montgomery remained in Milwaukee, WI, playing with area soul-jazz and bebop bands and doing solo dates. He moved to Oakland, CA in the early '80s, playing in the Bay Area and touring with vocalist Marlena Shaw. He organized the first Oakland jazz festival in 1987, bringing such acts as Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Junior Cook, and Hampton to Oakland. He also began recording for Landmark in the '80s, then was tabbed as a contributor to Concord's prestigious solo piano series in 1992. His was the 15th volume in the line. Buddy Montgomery recorded a few sessions as a leader into the 2000s, and both brothers can be heard on CD reissues featuring the Mastersounds and Montgomery Brothers.