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Rare Wes Montgomery recordings up for auction

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Previously unreleased recordings of late Indianapolis jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery are up for auction on eBay, with the proceeds going to charity.

The recordings, packaged as a limited edition vinyl album, are called “Echoes of Indiana Avenue,” in reference to the downtown district that once thrived as an African-American cultural center. Bids will be accepted until about 8:45 p.m. Friday.

As of mid-morning Friday, 21 bids had been entered for the first-edition recording, topping out at $255. Proceeds will benefit the American Heart Association.

Born in Indianapolis, Montgomery died of a heart attack in 1968 at the age of 45. Many modern jazz guitarists consider him to be their greatest influence.

The recordings are offered by Resonance Records, a division of the Beverly Hills, Calif., not-for-profit Rising Stars Jazz Foundation. It restored tapes of Montgomery’s music discovered in the 1990s.

The not-for-profit had hoped the album would fetch at least $1,000, Resonance spokesman Jordy Freed said.

“Since we’re not profiting, we’re really looking to make as much money for the heart association as possible,” he said.

Whatever amount is raised is fine with Lynne Griffin, the association’s health equity director for the Indiana region.

“Whether it’s a dime or a thousand,” she said, “we’re going to be satisfied and grateful.”

“Echoes of Indiana Avenue” showcases Montgomery performing at Indianapolis nightclubs in 1957 and 1958, before his more popular professional recordings.

He signed to the Riverside Records label in 1959 and remained there until late 1963, just before the company went bankrupt. The recordings made during that period are considered by jazz historians to be his best and most influential.

A guitarist unknown to Resonance somehow got ahold of the Montgomery tapes used to make “Echoes” in 1990. After trying unsuccessfully to sell the tapes, he contacted music producer Michael Cuscuna, who acquired the tapes and received approval from the Montgomery estate to re-record them.

The limited edition “Echoes” recording up for auction also contains rare studio cuts on both vinyl and compact disc, as well as rare photographs.

Resonance Records is hailing “Echoes” as the first previously unreleased work of Montgomery’s in more than 25 years. The not-for-profit ordered 1,000 vinyl copies of “Echoes,” all of which have been sold, it said. It also is selling a compact disc version.

To commemorate the event, Resonance plans to host a release party in Indianapolis at The Jazz Kitchen on North College Avenue at 6:30 p.m. on March 6.

The Indy Jazz Guitar Summit is scheduled to perform, and speakers include Montgomery’s son, Robert Montgomery; Melvin Rhyne and Mingo Jones, both of whom are featured on the album; jazz photographer Duncan Schiedt; and Zev Feldman, “Echoes” producer and executive vice president and general manager of Resonance Records.

Chuck Workman of local jazz and classical radio station WICR-FM 88.7 will serve as master of ceremonies.
 

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  • Proceeds for IJF
    It would be really cool if the proceeds went to the Indianapolis Jazz Foundation and its educational and Hall of Fame program!

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