Wes Montgomery – One Night in Indy (review)

Wes Montgomery – One Night in Indy (Resonance) review

A never before heard live date features Montgomery in his hometown

The fact that we’re finding unheard material from a legendary artist who’s been gone almost fifty years is pretty amazing. That the discovered recordings are of such high quality is nothing short of astounding. Resonance Records has just issued One Night in Indy, featuring Wes Montgomery and the Eddie Higgins Trio, the only known recording of the pairing, taped back in 1959. This release comes on the heels of last year’s In the Beginning (read our review), which traced the guitarist’s early days.

As the liner notes explain, the tape of this performance had been handed down from jazz enthusiasts, yet no one had ever actually listened to it. For a recording that was never meant as a proper release, the results are stunning.

Although there are only six songs, several of the tracks are lengthy, pushing the total of the disc to just over 40 minutes. Things kick off with the standard, “Give Me the Simple Life,” and Montgomery immediately takes center stage, with his signature thumb picking. Higgins, one of the most popular Chicago pianists at the time, is very melodic in his phrasing, but also gives plenty of room for the guitarist to work with.
“Prelude to a Kiss” was something Montgomery recorded with strings on album. Here with Higgins, this version is even better – it’s given a gorgeous treatment. After Montgomery plays some opening vamps, he leaves the rest to the pianist. “Stompin’ at the Savoy” is another composition that Montgomery would record himself. This live rendition is far closer to Benny Goodman’s original, with the band really swinging, and Montgomery dazzling with fluid playing. At about the 4:51 mark, the drummer increases speed and thing really elevate – Montgomery and Higgins begin trading off licks – it’s a real highlight of this set.

After a pair of ballads, the disc closes with “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” which again increases tempo at the end. The last thing you hear is people in the audience laughing – it must’ve been a joy to witness this performance in person.

Resonance has promised another unreleased Montgomery recording for later in 2016. Judging from the string of stellar albums, it’s going to be another great one. —Tony Peters