There are two essential and noteworthy albums to look out for by two artists at their musical peak, which include the late-greats guitarist Wes Montgomery and bassist Charles Mingus. Both men are still very much revered for their signature sound and undeniable ability to connect with diverse audiences all over the world.
Resonance Records’ critically acclaimed Wes Montgomery album, Echoes of Indiana Avenue, is significant because it’s the first full album of unheard Montgomery music in over 25 years. The collection of previous unreleased music by the influential 1960s jazz guitarist features nine newly discovered pre-1960 tracks that showcase Montgomery’s evolving solo talents. Montgomery died in 1968.
The live recordings were made in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana from 1957-58. The album also includes rare studio recordings. Four tracks were recorded at Indianapolis’ famous club the Hub Bub. Also, Wes’ brother Buddy Montgomery contributes a previously unpublished essay.
The musicians on the album include Wes Montgomery, guitar; Monk Montgomery, bass; Buddy Montgomery, piano; Mingo Jones, bass; Earl Van Riper, piano; Sonny Johnson, drums; Melvin Rhyne, piano, organ; and Paul Parker, drums.
Echoes of Indiana Avenue was among the picks in this year’s 60th Annual DownBeat magazine Critics Poll in the historical albums category. The album comes with a 24-page booklet filled with rare Montgomery family photos, and is available now.
Secondly, Mosaic Records will release its seventh CD expanding its Charles Mingus: The Jazz Workshop Concerts (1964-65) of previously unreleased material as part of the Charles Mingus limited edition collection to celebrate his 90th birthday anniversary on October 30.
According to the label press release, the mid-1960s was one of the most tumultuous periods in Mingus’ and America’s history. “In Mingus’ case, that personal, social, and political upheaval was the recipe for some of his most ferociously creative output, represented here by five intense, combustible concerts by some of his most legendary groups with works that range from his interpretations of Ellington, tributes to his musicians such as Eric Dolphy (with ‘Praying With Eric’), and an enormously ambitious portrait of bop called ‘Parkeriana,’ to several of Mingus’ own spectacular tunes.”
As part of the new seven-CD box set, concerts include Town Hall (NYC), Amsterdam, Monterey ’64 and ’65 and Minneapolis. For the first time in any format is a disc and a half worth of music from both Town Hall and Minneapolis.
Set producer Michael Cuscuna says, “These five triumphant performances capture Mingus at a peak musically and as an entrepreneur, seeking to control the rights to his own music and his economic destiny.” The discs document his famous Jazz Workshop, music which he intended to release on his own newly launched record label.
The musicians for these concerts include Eric Dolphy, Charles McPherson, Jaki Byard, Johnny Coles, Clifford Jordan, and Dannie Richmond. Cuscuna goes on to state that, “After a decade of recording for some of the biggest records in the industry, Charles Mingus decided in 1964 to return to the DIY model that he had begun in the early ’50s with Max Roach and their label debut. The Jazz Workshop label was launched in time for his celebrated Town Hall concert and subsequent European tour (represented here by its Amsterdam concert) with his stellar sextet.”
Hardcore Mingus fans will want to know that the Town Hall concert, which contains music originally released by Fantasy/Debut, includes 32 additional minutes of unissued material. “Originally a benefit for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the concert took place on April 4, 1964, and is not to be confused with Mingus’ other Town Hall concert, a big band performance 18 months earlier in which he sought to premier his extended work ‘Epitaph,’ as noted in the label release.
The seven-CD box set includes an essay and track analysis by Mingus biographer Brian Priestley, along with rare concert photos and an essay by Sue Mingus on the history of Charles Mingus Enterprises.
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