-->
Music

Wes Montgomery: Echoes of Indiana Avenue

Other than a crackling record on a turntable, there is perhaps nothing more satisfying to a jazz aficionado than the release of never-before-heard material from a great player.


Wes Montgomery

Echoes of Indiana Avenue

Label: Resonance
US Release Date: 2012-03-06
Amazon
iTunes

Other than a crackling record on a turntable, there is perhaps nothing more satisfying to a jazz aficionado than the release of never-before-heard material from a great player. For that reason, Echoes of Indiana Avenue may be one of the most satisfying jazz releases in decades. Recorded in different venues – two live sessions and one studio – the disc comprises nine tracks recorded by Wes Montgomery between 1957 and 1958, performances that came before his official 1959 debut on Riverside Records, The Wes Montgomery Trio: A Dynamic New Sound. The fact that it is surfacing more than half a decade after the performances took place is perhaps even overshadowed by the fact that it's also the first showcase of previously unheard Montgomery material in more than 25 years.

At the time the recordings were made, Montgomery was practically unheard of – despite touring with Lionel Hampton a decade earlier, he still played only small clubs in his hometown of Indianapolis. For that entire decade, he played those smalls clubs and recorded rarely, only to be discovered by Cannonball Adderley just after the time of these recordings. His first albums would become more experimental as they went on, but those tunes on Echoes are as straightforward as straightforward jazz guitar gets: His tone is crisp, and his notes are clear.

The disc starts off with "Diablo’s Dance", a Shorty Rogers tune first released in 1953, which kicks it off swinging – a hopping piano and running guitar chords. Following are two Thelonious Monk tunes, "’Round Midnight" and "Straight, No Chaser". The difference not only in rhythm but overall demeanor of these tunes proves almost immediately how versatile Montgomery would continue to be in his career. Montgomery takes "’Round Midnight" and calms it down, accenting the more natural notes as opposed to trying to imitate the inimitable Monk, but on "Straight, No Chaser", Montgomery’s thumb-only picking style actually does the trick of following in the Monkish tradition.

A live recording of Billy Strayhorn’s "Take the ‘A’ Train" highlights the middle of the record, led by Earl Van Ripper on piano and Mingo Jones’ walking bass. With its lo-fi audio and background bar noises, the track is still as clean as you can imagine -- perhaps a little hot on the high notes but that’s just being nitpicky. The disc-ending improvisation "After Hours Blues" is full of laughter and musical ribaldry in the back-and-forth solos of Montgomery and Ripper. A slow and steady, barely changing bassline by Jones keeps the tune steady, and you can imagine the smiles on the faces of the players as they toy with their talents onstage. Montgomery hits some blues scales and even just listening, it’s clear this was a special moment for the yet-undiscovered player.

Those tunes, along with the jazz standards "Body and Soul" and "Darn That Dream", help make this new release an instant classic. They showcase a talent before his glory days, paying homage to the standards and classics that inspired him, as he also works on creating his own. Accompanied by great players throughout the disc, including his two brothers Monk (bass) and Buddy (piano) on "Straight, No Chaser", the whole record flows like it actually was released in the '50s, even though it was scraped together after nearly being lost half a century later. It goes to show you that some of the best music you’ll ever hear has never been heard before.

8
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image