Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Wes Montgomery - Echoes of Indiana Avenue (Resonance, 2012)

Before guitarist Wes Montgomery vaulted to stardom with jazz recordings for Riverside and Verve and pop recordings for A&M, he was a scuffling guitarist working in a radio factory and playing in a group with his brothers and at local jam sessions. This is a disc of early recordings, apparently demos, recorded prior to his signing with Riverside Records. The album is made up of mostly jazz and pop standards save the opening "Diablo's Dance," which is a fast and exciting uptempo improvisation. The closer, "After Hours Blues" is a spontaneous improvisation recorded at a jam session. What is interesting about this track is that Montgomery plays with a much sharper, biting tone than usual, digging deep into the blues. He covers a couple of Thelonious Monk compositions, including a moody version of "Round Midnight," and a medium tempo version of "Straight, No Chaser." Billy Strayhorn's classic composition "Take the A Train" gives Montgomery a chance to stretch out on a faster paced familiar standard. I do not believe that these recordings were ever intended for commercial release, but work pretty well as an album. This disc will probably be best enjoyed by Montgomery completists because it catches an early glimpse of an emerging giant.Echoes of Indiana Avenue -

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