“Maximum Swing: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Recordings” by the jazz guitar icon Wes Montgomery with the Wynton Kelly Trio – November 24, 2023

Hey Jazz Guitar Lifers. Breaking News!! From the FB page of Resonance co-president Zev Feldman…

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WES MONTGOMERY / WYNTON KELLY TRIO on RESONANCE! I’m thrilled to announce the RSD Black Friday (November 24th) release of “Maximum Swing: The Unissued 1965 Half Note Recordings” by the jazz guitar icon Wes Montgomery with the Wynton Kelly Trio. This is the first official release of the complete previously unissued recordings from jazz guitar giant Wes Montgomery with the Wynton Kelly Trio at the famed Half Note jazz club in New York City in 1965 with drummer Jimmy Cobb and bassists Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Herman Wright and Larry Ridley.

As I said in my producer’s note for the booklet, without question, the music here constitutes some of the most extended, elastic and SWINGING Wes Montgomery performances ever recorded. We hear Wes doing things he hasn’t done on other recordings before, particularly all the extended solos he plays, where he stretches out far more than on his other recordings, even his other live recordings. Maximum Swing captures the vibrancy of the experience of hearing Wes live in this period.

Including over 2 hours from the original radio broadcasts with host Alan Grant, the limited-edition 3-LP 180-gram (and deluxe 2-CD) set is mastered by Matthew Lutthans and come in a deluxe triple gatefold with an elaborate booklet containing previously unpublished photos taken at the Half Note by Raymond Ross; plus a new essay from acclaimed journalist and author Bill Milkowski; interviews with jazz legends Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter, who both recorded with Wes; guitar icons Bill Frisell and Mike Stern; plus bassist Marcus Miller, who is Wynton Kelly’s cousin!

2023 marks Wes Montgomery’s Centennial (born March 6, 1923), and this is Resonance’s 7th release of Wes Montgomery recordings in cooperation with the estate. Now Wes Montgomery fans can hear the rest of the music from the Half Note that was only broadcast on the radio nearly 60 years ago. Pressed by Le Vinylist on 180-gram vinyl.

I’d like to thank Robert Montgomery of the Wes Montgomery Estate, and of course Michael Kurtz and Carrie Colliton at Record Store Day for their ongoing support, and my co-president of Resonance George Klabin for making this release possible. Thanks also to my co-producer Richard Seidel, and associate producer Zak Shelby-Szyszko, designers John Sellards and Gordon Jee, editor John Koenig, our publicist Ann Braithwaite, and everyone else who made this release happen.

[Read full press release below]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

WES MONTGOMERY AND WYNTON KELLY SMOKE AGAIN ON MAXIMUM SWING, NEW LIVE ARCHIVAL TREASURE DUE FROM RESONANCE RECORDS AS THREE-LP RSD BLACK FRIDAY EXCLUSIVE ON NOVEMBER 24, 2023

Resonance Celebrates Wes Montgomery’s Centennial with

First Legitimate Release of Hard-Hitting 1965 Dates at New York’s Half Note, Site of a Storied Meeting Between the Guitarist and Pianist, Arrives on CD and Digitally Dec. 1

Deluxe Package Features a Comprehensive Essay by Jazz Historian Bill Milkowski, Remembrances from Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Bill Frisell, Mike Stern and Marcus Miller, and Previously Unseen Photos by Raymond Ross

Three Newly Curated “Wes Montgomery on Resonance” Digital Streaming Compilations Also Available on All Streaming Platforms

Resonance Records will observe the centennial of Wes Montgomery’s birth on RSD Black Friday with the November 24, 2023 release of Maximum Swing, a collection of live performances — never previously released officially — by the guitarist and pianist Wynton Kelly’s trio captured at New York’s Half Note in 1965. The album will be issued as a two-CD set and digitally on December 1. RSD Black Friday releases will be available at independent record stores on Friday, November 24th (visit recordstoreday.com for more information and to find nearby stores).

The limited edition three-LP set was mastered for 180-gram vinyl by Matthew Lutthans, captures a series of dates at the Manhattan club that were recorded in the wake of the famed Montgomery-Kelly date released by Verve Records as “Smokin’ at the Half Note.” Unlike that classic recording, on which two June 1965 performances at the titular venue were augmented by three studio performances cut that September, the new set is 100% live.

Produced by Resonance co-president Zev Feldman — “the Jazz Detective,” who was named producer of the year in DownBeat magazine’s 2022 and 2023 critics’ polls — and Richard Seidel, Grammy-winning, long-time Verve Records A&R/Producer executive — Maximum Swing features Kelly’s working trio with bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, whose work with the keyboardist dated back to the historic 1959 dates for Miles Davis’ incomparable Kind of Blue. On some selections, Chambers’ slot is taken by guests Ron Carter, Larry Ridley, and Herman Wright; an unidentified bassist sits in on five expansive tracks from late 1965 unearthed by Japanese Wes Montgomery discographer/archivist Yoshio Tokui.

The package includes a comprehensive essay about Montgomery and Kelly’s Half Note collaborations by historian Bill Milkowski; remembrances by Carter and pianist Herbie Hancock, both of whom worked with the guitarist early in their careers; the great guitarists Bill Frisell and Mike Stern; and bassist Marcus Miller, who is Wynton Kelly’s second cousin. Never-before-seen photos from the Half Note by Raymond Ross complete the collection.

Maximum Swing is Resonance’s seventh Montgomery title, produced with the full cooperation of the musician’s estate. Among the releases is 2017’s Smokin’ in Seattle, a live date recorded in 1966 at the intimate club the Penthouse in the titular city.

Feldman says of the new release, “Without question, the music here constitutes some of the most extended, elastic and SWINGING Wes Montgomery performances ever recorded. The greater part of these performances were originally aired on radio broadcasts hosted by Alan Grant for his WABC-FM radio show Portraits in Jazz. We hear Wes doing things he hasn’t done on other recordings before, particularly all the extended solos he plays, where he stretches out far more than on his other recordings, even his other live recordings. Maximum Swing captures the vibrancy of the experience of hearing Wes live in this period.”

Milkowski writes, “Wes’s relaxed sense of rhythm and tempo, his melodic and harmonic intuition and cleanly articulated ideas were simply phenomenal, and even more exhilarating in a live setting, as we hear on these smokin’ tracks from the Half Note. And with amiable emcee Grant engaging the guitar great in casual banter during his intros and outros of the tunes — it all blends with the sound of glasses clinking, the murmurs from audience members during and between songs, and enthusiastic applause at the end of tunes to create the feeling of really being there that eventful night at the Half Note.”

Recalling his unanticipated stint subbing for Chambers behind Montgomery, Carter — the bassist in Miles Davis’s Second Great Quintet — says, “There was not a lot of time to rehearse. I remember there were no music stands and I was trying to figure out how to hold the music up for the songs I didn’t know; still it felt good to walk into a situation with the great Jimmy Cobb, the fabulous Wynton Kelly and this smashing guitar player Wes Montgomery. I knew of Jimmy from early on. I knew who they all were. I had known them from records and had contact with them occasionally in the course of various gigs and record dates, but to walk into that meeting place with all those guys and perform with them live on stage was astonishing for me. There were other guys they could have called for this sub gig, but I got chosen. No one in the band complained.”

Hancock observes, “When he played in clubs and concerts, Wes seemed to go back to what he was playing at the beginning, which was more straight-ahead jazz, and as you can hear on these recordings, Wynton Kelly was the perfect partner for that. Wes and Wynton sure could both play the blues and in that jazz style of blues playing. It was funky, yet it balanced the technical side of jazz playing and sophisticated harmonization.”

Like a legion of other guitarists who acknowledged the influence of Montgomery’s unique, trailblazing style — among them George Benson, Pat Martino, John Scofield, John Abercrombie, Lee Ritenour, Emily Remler, and Pat Metheny — Frisell and Stern offer kudos to the guitar great.

“Wes’s music is so accessible,” Frisell says. “There’s so much joy in it, but then there’s so much depth. It’s just like he invented this whole thing. That’s what’s so inspiring to me — how he took everything around him and constructed his own world. Then he was able to show it to us in such a clear way. That thing you can’t really describe, but you just feel the wonder.”

“I love that on these recordings we hear Wes stretching out,” says Stern. “He didn’t get to do that on his studio records, or even the live ones like the original Smokin’ at the Half Note. It’s amazing how much he can keep your interest. It just keeps building. He built every solo. And in some ways, some ballads stayed in the same beautiful place. Maybe he didn’t play as long, but when it was some blues or just swinging on something, some tune, ‘All the Things You Are,’ he just tore it up. And on this record, it was killing.”

Summing up Kelly’s contributions, both to Montgomery’s live attack and his contribution to jazz, Miller says, “Of course, you hear everybody talk about how joyful his playing was. The way he swung was really joyful. I feel connected to him also because he had an extensive R&B background. He played on some R&B hits. Wynton probably learned a lot about grooving from that and you can hear that in his playing. He always found a way to throw the blues in there. And he always found a way to really, really make it swing.”

Feldman writes of his label’s latest landmark contribution to Montgomery’s towering catalog, “At Resonance, working on these projects has been extremely rewarding for me personally, of course, but more importantly, it’s allowed us to participate in casting light on Wes Montgomery’s monumental stature in the history of jazz in general and jazz guitar in particular. I cannot begin to express fully the importance of his legacy.

How very cool and fortunate that we live in an era that offers up new Wes material. Thank you Zev!!! ????

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Resonance Records is a multi-GRAMMY® Award-winning label (most recently for John Coltrane’s Offering: Live at Temple University for “Best Album Notes”) that prides itself in creating beautifully designed, informative packaging to accompany previously unreleased recordings by the jazz icons who grace Resonance’s catalog. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, CA, Resonance Records is a division of Rising Jazz Stars, Inc. a California 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation created to discover the next jazz stars and advance the cause of jazz. Current Resonance Artists include Tawanda, Eddie Daniels, Tamir Hendelman, Christian Howes and Donald Vega. www.ResonanceRecords.org

For more information please contact:

Ann Braithwaite / Braithwaite & Katz Communications

Ph: 781-259-9600 / ann@bkmusicpr.com

About Lyle Robinson 350 Articles
Lyle Robinson is the owner/creator/publisher and editor of Jazz Guitar Life, an online magazine dedicated to the Jazz Guitar and its community of fine players worldwide.

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