"Echoes of Indiana Avenue" (Resonance Records) hearkens back to Wes Montgomery's Indianapolis days and nights. The tapes, made in 1957 and 58, are a blend of studio and live tracks (several from the splendidly named Hub Bub Club), were offered to Michael Cuscuna (of Mosaic Records) and he mentioned their existence to Resonance Records owner George Klabin. With the aid of producer Zev Feldman, the label purchased the digital transfers, did a slew of research (great booklet!) and, on March 6, the music will excite jazz fans the world wide. Among the musicians featured are the Montgomery Brothers, bassist Mingo Jones, pianists Earl van Riper and Melvin Rhyne (who plays organ on 1 track as well) plus drummers Sonny Johnson and Paul Parker. The majority of the material is jazz standards, ranging from "Round Midnight" to "Take The A Train" to "Misty" to "Body and Soul" - Wes is in fine form throughout, whether blasting through the changes on "Straight No Chaser" to a Buddy Guy-like "nasty" solo on "After Hours Blues." The "octaves" show in several solos but, much of the time, his single-note runs show his wonderful versatility and good taste. He never sounds rushed or timid -by this time of his career, he was in total command of his instrument.
Great package, fine music and a guitarist in his prime, "Echoes of Indiana Avenue" is more than collector's item. Go to www.resonancerecords.org and check out the video.
Williams leads the way throughout, whether it's opening tracks (as he does on "Search Me"), creating a ever-shifting pace (such as the one on Hébert's "Fez") and his ever-so-quiet work on O'Gallagher's "Go Where You're Watching". The musicians seem so comfortable with each other, no one overplays, solos flow organically from the "heads" or are influenced by the previous solo. Among the highlights is Eubank's ballad "Purple, Blue and Red" - the piece has tempo changes built into both the theme sections and during the solos. The music has an open feel and the soloists play off the interactions of the rhythm section. It's fun to hear Hébert's bowed bass beneath the sparse melody line at the onset of the title track which then leads to a medium-tempo piece. O'Gallagher's intense, probing, solo follows the more introspective work of Eubanks, all the while the rhythm section adjusts to the emotional movement of the front line.
"Another Time" is mature creative music, not so sober as to be uninteresting but playful and rhythmically involving. The compositions are strong without being stultifying allowing the players to move easily in and around each other. The more one listens, the better the music sounds and feels. To find out more, go to www.willfulmusic.com.
There's no secret formula to the success of "Live In Basel"; Pete Robbins has created a book of pleasing melodies, there is an excellent rhythm section plus solos with power, thought and are well-shaped. Judging by the results of this recording, this Transatlantic Quartet is worth traveling to see play live. For more information, go to peterobbins.com.