I'm well overdue with this, but out of all the people in the music world, particularly those associated with the soul and disco worlds who have passed recently like Damon Harris, once of The Temptations; Major Harris of The Delfonics, Bobbie Smith of The Spinners and most recently, Richie Havens, I couldn't possibly let the passing of Vince Montana, on April 13th go unacknowledged here. As a vibraphonist, arranger and producer, if there was anyone whose work and pedigree spoke to the high level of musicianship that underlined so much of what made and still makes disco as foundational as it is, it's Vince Montana. One of the key members of MFSB's first generation lineup, which was essentially Philly International and by extension, Philly Soul's house band, having either played on, or arranged a number of Philly Soul standards, going back to The Delfonics' "La La Means I Love You," like many of the musicians who graced the Philly sound, and later many disco sessions, Vince came with a background rich in musical experience. Having been a working musician since his teens, rooted in Jazz, having played with the likes of Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown, by the time Montana would put together The Salsoul Orchestra, with many moonlighting Philly and Latin players; Vince, by then pushing 50, was more than a seasoned pro..
|Loleatta Holloway and Vince Montana, Jr. |
After leaving Salsoul, Vince would have another strong run on the Atlantic label, with his own Goody Goody album (featuring his daughter, Jazz singer Denise Montana on vocals) and two records for his own Montana Orchestra (one of which I had written about here back in November 2006). Even after disco, Vince remained active well into the 1980s and up into the 2000s, releasing music on his own Philly Sound Works label, and arranging records for the Pet Shop Boys, Robin S., Randy Crawford and for Masters at Work's Nuyorican Soul in the late 90s.
Among the posted tributes from his peers and collaborators on his Facebook fanpage, guitarist Bobby Eli in his own message would say that the Philly sound to him was "soul music dressed up in a tuxedo.., a sound that was topped off by the beauty of Vince Montana's masterful vibes. Vince's contributions through his arrangements and his touch on the vibraphone, riding atop many Philly productions (Kirk DeGiorgio's 2 hour tribute mix at RBMA Radio is a good primer) was undoubtedly one of the main elements which helped give the Philly sound that extra touch of class. As both Bobby and Vince emphasize in their interview for the 1995 WGBH-BBC Rock & Roll documentary series, the Philly sound, which gave birth to the Disco sound, more than being just the sound of a place, a label or even of a group of producers, was the sound of the musicians, like Vince, Bobby, Earl Young, Norman Harris, Larry Washington (among others) and the unique individual style and talent each of them brought to it.
While Vince didn't seem like the kind of person who lacked a healthy ego (his arguments with Tom Moulton certainly speak to that), nothing can take away the impact of his talent and contributions to the world of disco and beyond. As he had said in his 2011 interview with Robbie Busch (which they recently re-published online, in tribute) for Waxpoetics magazine's Philly Issue: "at my funeral they are going to play my stuff. I’ve told my children, 'Don’t ever let them forget my music.' I’ve put a lot of time and my life into my music."
Having lived that life of music well into his 80s, with a body of work and musicianship that continues to touch generations of listeners, hopefully it's a wish that will continue to remain well-kept.
In closing, his daughter, Eileen, who according to his obituary in the South Jersey Courier-Post had been maintaining his web/social media presence, had put together an incredible archive of video footage on his official YouTube account, including this 1978 TV performance of "Warp Factor II," taken from his "A Dance Fantasy Inspired by Close Encounters of the Third Kind" LP. Without a band or an orchestra, just improvising on the vibes to the recorded track; to see and hear him here is to witness a master at work..
Vince Montana, Jr. "Warp Factor II" - The Steel Pier Show (1978)
Uploaded by MontanaPSW
Once again, here's to you Vince! Rest in Peace.
PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
R.I.P. LOLEATTA HOLLOWAY (1946-2011) (TUESDAY MARCH 11, 2011)
COCKTAILS AT THE DISCO LOUNGE.. (MONDAY JUNE 11, 2007)
DISCO DELIVERY #28: MONTANA - A DANCE FANTASY INSPIRED BY CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1978, ATLANTIC) (SUNDAY NOVEMBER 12, 2006)
FACEBOOK: VINCENT MONTANA, JR. OFFICIAL FANPAGE
COURIER-POST: RENOWNED CHERRY HILL MUSICIAN MONTANA WAS 'JUST DAD' (BY ANDY MCNEIL) (APRIL 19, 2013)
RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY RADIO: KIRK DEGIORGIO - TRIBUTE TO VINCENT MONTANA, JR.
VVN NEWS: PASSINGS: VINCENT MONTANA, JR. OF TSOP AND FOUNDER OF THE SALSOUL ORCHESTRA (TUESDAY APRIL 16, 2013)
HIPHOP DX: MFSB MEMBER VINCE MONTANA JR. PASSES AWAY, LEAVES HIP HOP LEGACY (BY JAKE PAINE) (APRIL 16, 2013)
DANGEROUS MINDS: RIP DISCO LEGEND VINCENT MONTANA, JR, KING OF VIBES (BY NIALL O'CONGHAILE) (APRIL 15, 2013)
GREG WILSON - BEING A DJ: VINCENT MONTANA, JR. (APRIL 15, 2013)
HIFI MAGAZINE: RIP VINCENT MONTANA, JR. (BY J. MATTHEW COBB) (APRIL 14, 2013)
5 MAGAZINE: VINCENT MONTANA, JR., PIONEER OF THE PHILADELPHIA SOUND PASSED AWAY TODAY (BY TERRY MATTHEW) (APRIL 14, 2013)
THE KEY (XPN 88.5): RIP VINCE MONTANA, JR. (MEMBER OF MFSB AND FOUNDER OF THE SALSOUL ORCHESTRA) (BY BRUCE WARREN) (APRIL 13, 2013)
SOUL SOURCE: PHILLY LEGEND VINCE MONTANA PASSES (APRIL 13, 2013)
WGBH OPENVAULT: INTERVIEW WITH BOBBY ELI AND VINCE MONTANA (VIDEO)
WAXPOETICS: HEAVY VIBES - AN INTERVIEW WITH VINCENT MONTANA, JR. (BY ROBBIE BUSCH)
DISCOMUSIC.COM: INTERVIEW/PROFILE - VINCENT MONTANA, JR.
DJHISTORY: INTERVIEWS - VINCE MONTANA
ELECTRONIC BEATS: VINCENT'S GOT SO MUCH SOUL (AN INTERVIEW WITH VINCENT MONTANA, JR.) (WEB ARCHIVE)
CATEGORIES: IN MEMORIAM.., RE-DELIVERIES, VISUAL DISCO