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Wes Montgomery: One Night in Indy

C. Michael Bailey By

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In the Resonance Wes Montgomery catalog, One Night in Indy: Featuring the Eddie Higgins Trio (2016) falls in between In The Beginning (Resonance, 2015) and Smokin' in Seattle: Live At the Penthouse 1966 (Resonance, 2017). It is documentation of Montgomery, appearing with the Eddie Higgins Trio at the Indianapolis Jazz Club, January 18, 1959. These performances, not previously released, fall chronologically between In The Beginning and Wes Montgomery: Beginnings (Blue Note, 1959). the Wes Montgomery Trio (Riverside, 1959); The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery (Riverside, 1960); and Wes Montgomery: So Much Guitar! (Riverside, 1962) were all yet to come.

One Night in Indy provides the naïve listener with Montgomery in incubation. Already fully formed as an artist, Montgomery's style here is acquiring its rounded edges that would make the guitarist's sound classic in the coming years. First, a note of caution: sonically, this recording leaves something to be desired, as is often necessary with considering archival material like this. That said, the dates sound gives these performances a decidedly noir sound that is abundantly evident on "Prelude to a Kiss." Less noir is the swinging "Stompin' at the Savoy." Montgomery is in full flight, the guitarist pulling out his entire arsenal: single notes, block chords, and octaves, delivering them all at an impressive tempo. Pianist Higgins, plays up to the challenge, sounding like a cross between Wynton Kelly and Red Garland with the touch of an Oscar Peterson.

Neil Hefti's "Li'l Darlin'" juxtaposes well with "Savoy," demonstrating both ends of the swing era. Montgomery makes a fine vehicle of the piece long associated with Count Basie. A further juxtaposition is posed with Thelonious Monk's angular "Ruby, My Dear," where Higgins is given a wide berth within which to solo. Montgomery sounds both pensive and resigned as he provides filigree to Higgins' chording. The closing piece, Cole Porter's "You'd be So Nice to Come Home To" is the shortest piece on the recording and perhaps the finest performed. One Night in Indy provides a compelling look at an unparalleled artist in the ascending arc of this career.

Track Listing: Give Me the Simple Life; Prelude to a Kiss; Stompin’ as the Savoy; Li’l Darlin’; Ruby My Dear; You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.

Personnel: Wes Montgomery: guitar; Eddie Higgins: piano; Unknown: bass; Walter Perkins: drums.

Title: One Night in Indy | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Resonance Records

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