Wes Montgomery’s One Night In Indy

cover artJust when you think there can’t possibly be any more undiscovered recordings of Wes Montgomery, here comes Resonance Records with yet another one. And One Night In Indy is a truly great record for jazz fans and Montgomery fans – and even for fans of Eddie Higgins, with whose trio Wes is sitting in on this date. But let me go back …

Producer Zev Feldman and the Indiana photojournalist Duncan Schiedt got to know each other when they both worked on the 2012 Resonance release of Wes Montgomery’s Echoes of Indiana Avenue. In 2013 Schiedt approached Feldman and asked if he would be interested in releasing a recording he had – a 7″ tape reel featuring a January 18, 1959, performance by Montgomery and the Eddie Higgins Trio.

As I understand it, nobody else even knew that Montgomery and the Higgins trio had ever gigged, much less that it was recorded. Schiedt apparently was a member of a club that hosted private jazz performances and listening parties. This date was one of those performances, a one-off for all involved, and somebody happened to record it. It probably sounds like a bad home recording, you’re thinking. So was I, and I was wrong. This is a nicely produced recording, although obviously not studio-quality. But the sound is clear and the instruments all are audible, in particular the guitar and piano. The bass is a little indistinct, but that’s better than having it muddying-up the works.

What we’re after here is Wes Montgomery, and he comes through loud and clear on this 40-minute, six-selection program of superb hard-bop and balladry. The standout for me is the third track “Stompin’ At The Savoy,” which kicks right off with a brief duet statement of the melody by Wes and Higgins, followed by a Montgomery solo section, then Higgins, followed by the unknown bassist, and then back around again, all accompanied by Chicago drum legend Walter Perkins. I’m a stranger to Higgins’s work to this point, but the pianist has an extraordinary rhythmic sense and a fine ear for improvisation.

The program opens with the classic, swinging “Give Me The Simple Life,” then flows into the lush ballad “Prelude To A Kiss.” It’s rounded out by the deeply swinging “Li’l Darling,” an affectingly bluesy “Ruby, My Dear” and a truncated but swinging “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To,” a great wrap to a historic date that’s remarkable for its laid-back ordinariness. This is four working musicians – never mind that one of them would go on to become a household name within a few years – doing what they do for a small crowd of aficionados, whose applause and occasional appreciative vocalizations are sometimes heard on the tape.

The recording was released on vinyl in November 2015 as part of the so-called Black Friday record store day, but this is its first mass release on CD. It was released with the blessings of the Montgomery estate and Higgins’s widow. Superb sound restoration and mixing by Resonance, and a beautiful cover photo of an Indianapolis cityscape designed by Burton Yount. Resonance says it has discovered even more early Wes Montgomery recordings it plans to release in 2016 and 2017. Great news, that.

Resonance Records, 2016


Gary Whitehouse

A fifth-generation Oregonian, Gary is a retired journalist and government communicator. Since the 1990s he has been covering music, books, food & drink and occasionally films, blogs and podcasts for Green Man Review. His main literary interests for GMR are science fiction, music lore, and food & cooking. A lifelong lover of music, his interests are wide ranging and include folk, folk rock, jazz, Americana, classic country, and roots based music from all over the world. He also enjoys dogs, birding, cooking, craft beer, and coffee.

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