Saturday, April 4, 2015

Wes Montgomery in the Beginning - The Early Years (1949-1958)

So, to his latest album. Some 47 years after his death. PR blurb screaming about this being “newly discovered live & studio recordings.” When I see the word “rare” and the phrase “never before released,” I usually take it with a large pinch of salt. Expecting inferior recordings and weak performances on mediocre material the artist would never have wanted to see the light of day. Or cleverly worded marketing copy that spins the fact you can actually find half the stuff already, under other titles and on bargain bin compilations. Not this time. The music archaeologists did a blinding job unearthing these hidden treasures, they realty did. A 26-Track Collection of (here we go….) “Rare & Never-Before-Released Tracks Spanning 1949-1958.”
Only the third new release of predominantly unheard Montgomery  material since his passing in 1968. The icing on the cake here is a complete 1955 recording session for Epic Records, produced By Quincy Jones.
“In The Beginning,” is released in 2-CD Deluxe Digipack & Separate 3-LP Set, which includes a 55-page booklet with previously unpublished photos from the Montgomery Estate and friends in Montgomery’s native Indianapolis. Plus essays & recollections from Quincy Jones, Pete Townshend, Bill Milkowski, Ashley Kahn, Producer Zev Feldman & others. It includes excerpts From “Unpublished Autobiography,” by Buddy Montgomery.
When “Echoes of Indiana Avenue,” was released in 2012, it had been nearly 45 years since a full album of previously unheard Wes Montgomery music had been released. Fortunately, jazz lovers don’t have to wait another half-century for more discoveries from the legendary guitarist’s past. “In the Beginning,” features recordings of Wes Montgomery in his formative years when the six-string virtuoso was honing his craft in Southern Indiana. Since he died, only two other albums of predominantly unreleased material have been released– “Willow Weep For Me,” on Verve in 1968 and “Echoes of Indiana Avenue,” on Resonance, three years ago.
In his liner notes, Kahn refers to “In the Beginning,” as a journey back in time. That journey begins on the stage of Indianapolis’ Turf Club in the summer of 1956 and travels backwards and forwards over the course of two discs, until arriving in the studios of Spire Records in Fresno, California in 1949. There, a 26-year-old Montgomery was working as a sideman in a band led by tenor saxophonist Gene Morris that featured Sonny Parker on vocals.
It was a time when the South had a brewing fear of integration. Musicians used back entrances to clubs, only to appear on the bandstand as entertainment, and were asked to leave at the end of their sets. Listeners will be gripped by the history and experiences underlying these recordings during this time of segregation. Thirteen of the tracks were recorded at the Turf Club, which was an all-white club near the ‘Speedway’ section of Indianapolis. Wes’s brother ; vibraphonist and pianist Buddy Montgomery recounts a time when Count Basie and Sarah Vaughan came to the Turf Club to hear them play, and were almost turned away at the door. It wasn’t until the Montgomery Brothers said, “Well, we’re not going to play. We’re through if they don’t come in,” that the proprietor set up a table for them...

Wes Montgomery
In the Beginning
The Early Years


Cd. 1

1 After You've Gone (Creamer, Layton)  4:50
2 Fascinating Rhythm (Gershwin, Gershwin)  4:23
3 Brazil (Barroso)  4:13
4 What Is There to Say ? (Duke, Harburg)  5:45
5 Four (Davis)  5:28
6 Wes' Tune (Montgomery)  6:06
7 My Heart Stood Still (Hart, Rodgers)  5:58
8 How High the Moon (Lewis)  5:13
9 Django (Lewis)  5:53
10 Going Down to Big Mary's (Turner)  3:26
11 I Should Care (Cahn, Stordhal, Weston)  3:28
12 Caravan (Tizol, Ellington)  4:51
13 Six Bridges to Cross (Chandler, Mancini)  2:53
14 Ralph's New Blues (Jackson)  7:00


Cd. 2

1 Soft Winds (Goodman)  11:58
2 Robbins' Nest (Jacquet, Thompson)  12:30
3 A Night in Tunisia (Gillespie, Paparelli)  5:17
4 Love for Sale (Porter)  3:53
5 Leila (Montgomery)  2:56
6 Blues (Montgomery)  3:18
7 Undecided (Robin, Shavers)  3:07
8 Far Wes (Montgomery)  3:18
9 All the Things You Are (Kern)  12:04
10 King Trotter (Morris)  2:38
11 Carlena's Blues (Parker)  2:51
12 Smooth Evening (Johnson)  2:54


[Cd. 1, # 1-13]
Wes Montgomery - g
Alonzo "Pookie" Johnson - ts [# 1-9 & 13]
Buddy Montgomery - p
Debbie Andrews - vc [# 10 & 11]
Monk Montgomery - b
John Dale - b [# 8, 10 & 11]
Sonny Johnson - dr
Recorded live at the Turf Club, Indianapolis ; August 22 [# 1 & 3] ; August 25 [# 2, 4-7, 9, 12 & 13] ; November 8 [# 10 & 11] ; November 20 [# 8], 1956
[Cd. 1, # 14]
Wes Montgomery - g
Jack Coker - p
Buddy Montgomery - vb
Sonny Johnson - dr
Recorded live at the home of Ervena Montgomery, Indianapolis ; Sempember 8, 1956
[Cd. 2, # 1-3]
Wes Montgomery - g
Melvin Rhyne - p [# 1]
Richie Crabtee - p [# 2 & 3]
Flip Stewart - b
Paul Parker - dr
Recorded live at the Missile Lounge, Indianapolis ; November 22, 1958
[Cd. 2, # 4-8]
Wes Montgomery - g
Buddy Montgomery - p
Alonzo "Pookie" Johnson - ts
Monk Montgomery - b
Robert "Sonny" Johnson - dr
Recorded at Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York City ; June 15, 1955
[Cd. 2, # 9]
Wes Montgomery - g
Alonzo "Pookie" Johnson - ts
Rest of band unknown
Recorded live at C&C Muisc Lounge, Chicago, Illinois ; 1957
[Cd. 2, # 10-12]
Wes Montgomery - g
Roy Johnson - b
Douglas Duke - p
Gene Morris - ts
Earl "Fox" Walker - dr
Recorded at Spire, Fresno, California ; 1949

This musical time machine makes stops at the home of younger sister Ervena Montgomery, where Wes uncharacteristically picks up — and solos on — an electric bass ; at Indianapolis’ Missile Lounge in November 1958, where Wes is joined by organist and pianist Melvin Rhyne, bassist Flip Stewart, and drummer Paul Parker; at the C&C Music Lounge in Chicago for a twelve-minute 1957 exploration of “All the Things You Are” with tenor saxophonist Alonzo “Pookie” Johnson; and at the Columbia Studios in New York City in 1955, where brothers Wes, Buddy and Monk Montgomery, “Pookie”, and drummer Sonny Johnson were recorded & produced by a young Quincy Jones for the then-new Epic Records (recorded at the same studio that Miles Davis recorded Kind of Blue). For nearly 60 years, all five songs from that session (except “Love for Sale” which appeared on the 1983 Columbia Records compilation “Almost Forgotten,”) have gathered dust in the vaults.
The project began life in the wake of “Echoes of Indiana Avenue.” Even before that release, Buddy Montgomery’s widow Ann approached Producer Zev Feldman and Resonance founder and Executive Producer George Klabin with the Turf Club, Missile Lounge, and jam session recordings, looking for a respectful home for this never-released music. Philip Kahl, a 22 year old college student, had access to the brothers and recorded them with a portable tape recorder. The revelations snowballed from there. A colleague offered up a tape made at the C&C Music Lounge, a club on the south side of Chicago, and a private collector in Austria revealed three 78 RPM sides featuring Wes as a sideman, with Gene Morris and his Hamptones, two of them featuring vocalist Sonny Parker. The ‘78s were rare and even the Library of Congress didn’t have them. Drummer and jazz historian Kenny Washington tipped Feldman to the existence of the previously unissued Epic Recordings, which were licensed from Sony Music Entertainment. Also included are tracks from the now sold-out Limited Edition 10” records, “Live at the Turf Club,” and “Wes Montgomery & The Montgomery-Johnson Quintet,” issued for Record Store Day in April 2014.
In his essay, Pete Townshend writes, “What comes across is a sense of fun and discovery. There is mischief and experiment. This was a period when jazz was breaking ground on all fronts, and I hadn't realized how sophisticated a guitarist Wes was even in these early days… He stopped playing so flashily in the next decade, and concentrated more on atmosphere and expression – his playing became loving, gentle and poetic. He became a romantic. But on these sessions he's a young blade, rocking out, speeding sometimes, challenged by his brother Buddy on piano who could elaborate either like falling drops of water on a tin roof, or like a machine gun.”
The booklet includes excerpts from a never before released, unpublished autobiography written by Buddy Montgomery. Included are passages of Buddy’s recollections, including an interview with his sister Ervena. Buddy’s estate provided a wealth of rare photographs, including a shot of Wes Montgomery standing behind a pinball machine, taken by Phillip Kahl at the Turf Club. Robert Montgomery, Wes’s youngest son, and the head of the Wes Montgomery Estate signed on as associate producer for the project.
News just in : On April 18th for Record Store Day 2015, Resonance Records will also release a completely unrelated 12” LP of “Wes Montgomery - One Night In Indy,” (featuring The Eddie Higgins Trio). This limited edition release unites Montgomery with legendary jazz pianist Eddie Higgins and his trio, featuring drummer Walter Perkins, in a 1959 Indianapolis club performance.
Resonance has teamed up with the Wes Montgomery Estate to release even more previously unissued music, sometime in 2016-2017. Props to Resonance Records, not only making history but preserving & documenting the legacy of Wes Montgomery, almost half a century after he left us for the big gig in the sky.
The man has influenced so many of today’s guitarists, even outside of jazz circles, and in my opinion, has not had the credit and attention his unique talent truly deserves. Until now that is………. “In The Beginning,” quite obviously a labour of love for all concerned in delivering a fitting tribute to a towering giant of jazz guitar.
Simon Redley

Source :


Melanchthon said...


Cd. 1

Cd. 2

wouter said...

this looks VERY promising. many thanks, Mel!

blbs said...

Thank you for the CD version!

-Otto- said...

Well, never knew that Quincy Jones was a producer for Wes Montgomery in the 50. Very nice set. Thanks, Melnchthon!

dd said...

Another amazingly beautiful offering. Thanks!!!

deGallo said...

Great upgrade! Thank you

musician3 said...


Jaffa said...

WONDERFUL - thanks, Mel !

daniel genovese said...

Thank you!

steve said...

Awesome Mel! Thanks for this listen.

Jazzsoulman said...

Thank you

Newlyner said...

Great post Mel. Many thanks.

glinka21 said...

Thanks very much, Mel!

Blue Eyes said...

Fabulous post! Happy Easter / Joyeuses Pâques Mel!!

fcapeau said...

Many thanks for this amazing post.

stringbender said...

UNREAL! Many thanks.

YankeeBoy said...

What's the password? You have a PW link but it does not show a password

bho wani said...

Doux Jesus ! quelle merveille ! je vais me régaler, merci "melanchthon"

The Jackal said...


You've done it again....must have been an early outing for Mr Hubbard on "Montgomeryland." Historical stuff indeed and Eddie Daniels on the Don Paterson recording, so interesting.
Thanks always

Isidoro Macarena said...

muchas gracias

el marinero said...

thanks Mel,you'are a killer

kristophermc28 said...

Thanks Mel!

AmyBRAINS said...

Many, many thanks Melanchthon.

Geoviki said...

Great description and what's sure to be a great listen. Thanks!

jose arboleda said...

Muchas gracias/

chuchuni said...

Thanks Mel!

jazzcat1228 said...

Wow! This looks great, Mel. Thank you.

brian said...

and this artwork's out!