One Night In Indy

Wes Montgomery

Resonance, 2015

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


The rule of thumb with Wes Montgomery’s music is that the earlier the recording, the better and more creative it is. Early in his career he was a sideman, but by 1958, he was signed to the Riverside label and for the next six years he created a body of work that helped define the jazz guitar for the next several generations of musicians who would follow.

Montgomery released an incredible 18 albums during his time with Riverside, so it is always a treat when some unreleased material is unearthed. That brings us to an old 7” tape reel recording that was recently discovered of a 1959 live performance by Montgomery, backed by pianist Eddie Higgins, drummer Walter Perkins, and a bassist whose name has been lost to history. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Duncan Schiedt was a photojournalist, filmmaker, author, and jazz aficionado who ran the Indianapolis Jazz Club with friends for a number of years. Before his death in 2014, he passed on a tape of the only known live performance of Montgomery and Higgins performing together.

The six tracks follow the same formula. Higgins establishes the melody and then Montgomery improvises on top of the piano. Sometimes his excursions are true to the song’s melody, but at other times, he twists them all out of shape.

The opening track, the nine minute “Give Me The Simple Life,” is an introduction of what is to come. Montgomery’s guitar flits in and out of Higgins piano runs as they establish a double melody. “Lil Darling” has an extended Montgomery solo. He had a delicate and precise touch and his sound here is immediately recognizable. “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” finds the drums, piano, and guitar creating a three-layered melodic effect. “Ruby My Dear” is a Thelonious Monk composition and Montgomery travels an eclectic route as he pushes the melody to the outer edges of its structure.

One Night In Indy finds Wes Montgomery performing live at the beginning of what will be the most fertile part of his career. The sound is adequate, which is normal for a recording in a small club in 1959. Still, it finds a mature artist combining with a first-rate pianist. This release is a fine addition to Montgomery’s early legacy.

Rating: B+

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