Documentary film on Wes Montgomery to tell life story of ‘musical genius’

Jazz icon Wes Montgomery is the subject of an upcoming film that seeks to “solve the mysteries” of the great guitarist.

Jukeboxer Productions, whose previous works include a documentary on Kurt Vonnegut, is working on the new film titled Wes Bound projected to be completed and released in 2023.

It will be the first-ever film documentary on Montgomery, described by the filmmakers as “a musical genius who couldn’t read a note but could compose beautiful songs and play others’ work with dazzling complexity and simple soulfulness.”

Montgomery’s wife Serene and youngest son Robert have both endorsed the project and are working with the filmmakers to bring the guitarist’s life story to audiences.

“People know about the music, but they don’t know about him and where the music came from,” Robert Montgomery told the Indianapolis Star. “It wasn’t just his style of playing; it was him as a person. When you have music that comes from the heart and the beauty of a person, then it draws you into what’s being played.”

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Born in Indianapolis in 1923, Montgomery is widely considered one of the most influential guitarists of the 20th century. He was known for his unique playing style and distinct sound, primarily in the genres of hard bop, soul jazz and post bop. He died of a heart attack in 1968, at the age of 45.

Wes Bound will take a deep dive into Montgomery’s life, including his late start yet quick mastery of his instrument; the story behind “the thumb,” his unusual way of plucking guitar strings; his early years in the clubs and his discovery by Cannonball Adderley; and his later turn toward more mainstream, pop-oriented music.

The film is expected to feature footage from home movies and new interviews with family members and fellow musicians, including George Benson and Lee Ritenour.

Production started in the summer of 2019.

You can watch the trailer for Wes Bound here.