Though Wes Montgomery died in 1968 aged just 45, the Indiana-born jazz guitarist made such an impression that his body of work has influenced an entire generation of guitar players, from George Benson to Pat Metheny, Jimi Hendrix and everyone in between. In a period of roughly ten years, Montgomery had three distinct periods at different labels: Riverside (1959-1964), Verve (1964-1966) and A&M (1967-1968), the latter two under the aegis of producer Creed Taylor. Maverick producer Taylor moved Montgomery away from his pure jazz roots to the vanguard of the “mod jazz” movement, or crossover jazz-pop-soul, often with a full orchestra at his disposal. But Montgomery’s technique, with radical use of octaves (playing the same note on two strings, one octave apart) and chord melodies as well as the inclination to play with his thumb rather than a pick, made his sound one of the most recognizable in all jazz.
The discovery of unheard Montgomery material has been a rare one, so the upcoming release from Resonance Records is a significant one. Echoes of Indiana Avenue is being touted by the label as the first album of previously unheard Montgomery music in over 25 years, and its tracks emanate from Indianapolis, Indiana, circa 1957 and 1958, when Montgomery was on the cusp of his breakthrough. Echoes of Indiana Avenue arrives next Tuesday, March 6, which would have been Montgomery’s 88th birthday.
What will you find in this Montgomery treasure chest? Just hit the jump to find out!
The nine songs heard on Indiana Avenue represent the earliest known recordings of Wes Montgomery as a leader, predating his Riverside debut in 1959. (Riverside’s 1996 Fingerpickin’ also offered material from 1957/1958, but much of it had been released already in piecemeal form.) The new album presents both live and studio recordings, including four tracks from a famed Indianapolis jazz club, The Hub Bub. In all, the album contains tracks from one studio date and two live gigs.
Montgomery is joined by drummer Paul Parker and keyboardist Melvin Rhyne, pianist Earl Van Riper, bassist Mingo Jones and drummer Sonny Johnson, as well as Montgomery’s brothers Monk on acoustic bass and Buddy on piano. Among the choice repertoire are takes on Eroll Garner’s “Misty” (popularized as a vocal by Johnny Mathis), Billy Strayhorn’s indelible “Take the A Train” and Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” and “Straight, No Chaser.” Further standards include “Body and Soul” and “Darn That Dream.”
Resonance is seeing to it that the booklet matches the high standard of the album’s music. The 24-page CD booklet (housed in a digipak format) offers rare family photographs and shots taken by Duncan Scheidt as well as liner notes by such well-known jazz writers as Dan Morgenstern, David N. Baker, Bill Milkowski and Michael Cuscuna. In addition, you’ll find a 1980 interview with Montgomery’s brother Monk and a previously-unpublished essay from his brother Buddy. Resonance’s Zev Feldman, together with George Klabin and Fran Gala–who restored the sound (with Klabin) and mastered the recording–have shepherded this album to release.
Echoes of Indiana Avenue will also be released on vinyl. Mastered by Bernie Grundman, the 180-gram release has been pressed on 12-inch at 45 RPM. The vinyl release boasts a “hand-assembled, hand-numbered gatefold by Stoughton Press” and includes a four-panel booklet with 12 x 12 insert.
Montgomery’s birthday might also be a fine occasion to revisit Hip-o Select’s terrific set containing all of the guitarist’s Verve albums. Could an A&M set be far behind? In the meantime, all editions of Echoes of Indiana Avenue will be available next Tuesday, March 6, from Resonance Records. You’ll find a pre-order link below!
Wes Montgomery, Echoes of Indiana Avenue (Resonance, 2012)
- Diablo’s Dance
- Round Midnight
- Straight No Chaser
- Nica’s Dream
- Darn That Dream
- Take the A Train
- Body and Soul
- After Hours Blues (Improvisation)
All tracks previously unreleased.
Wes Montgomery, guitar (all)
Monk Montgomery, bass (3)
Buddy Montgomery, piano (3)
Mingo Jones, bass (6, 7, 8 & 9)
Earl Van Riper, piano (6, 7, 8 & 9)
Sonny Johnson, drums (6, 7 & 8)
Melvin Rhyne, piano (1 & 4), organ (2 & 5)
Paul Parker, drums (1, 2, 4 & 5)