The first half of 2019 has seen a parade of spectacular special editions, reissues, concert recordings and limited edition releases that are essential for discerning fans of a diverse range of groundbreaking artists.
Artist: Wes Montgomery
Title: Back on Indiana Avenue: The Carroll DeCamp Recordings (Resonance Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Wes Montgomery, Lionel Hampton
Tell me more: Available on audio CD and via digital, the wonderful set of Wes Montgomery rarities Back on Indiana Avenue: The Carroll DeCamp Recordings is yet another chance to celebrate the legacy of one of the greatest jazz guitarists of the 20th century. Only 45 when he died in 1968, the Indianapolis, Indiana native is heard on this lively set of 22 tracks early in his career via two hours of previously-unheard audio recordings. Of special note are the early versions of material he would cut for Riverside Records including "Round Midnight" and "Whisper Not" from his 1959 debut The Wes Montgomery Trio, and "Sandu" and "Tune-Up" from his 1960 sophomore album Movin' Along. The audio quality and level of performance is riveting more than 60 years after the myriad of performances were put to tape with Montgomery featured in a diverse number of settings – piano quartets, organ trios, extents and with Nat "King" Cole-styled trios. Information: ResonanceRecords.org.
Artist: Bill Evans
Title: Evans in England (Resonance Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Bill Evans, Stan Getz
Tell me more: A previously-unreleased live recording featuring American jazz pianist Bill Evans, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morell was captured at Ronnie Scott's jazz club in December 1969, but was only released for the first time by Los Angeles-based Resonance Records in April 2019. The two-disc release (Evans in England) features the masterful concert performance along with detailed liner notes and interviews with Gomez, Morell and filmmaker Leon Terjanian. Resonance Records has released several other titles featuring Evans (who died in September 1980 at the age of 51) over the past few years including 2012's Bill Evans Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Game. Listening to this title is to hear how much Evans' incredible style continues to influence jazz pianists in the 21st century. Information: ResonanceRecords.org.
Artist: Hank Williams
Title: The Complete Health & Happiness Recordings (BMG)
You might like if you enjoy: Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Michael Ubaldini, Ray Price
Tell me more: Hank Williams' tragic death at the age of 29 on Jan. 1, 1953 cut short the life and career of one of the most influential and gifted country music artists of all time. So it's not surprising that there is an interest in any available recordings featuring the late Alabama-born icon. Look no further than the recently-released The Complete Health & Happiness Recordings, featuring all eight episodes of the 1949 radio series "Health & Happiness." While the series didn't run long, the material featured on those airings included Williams performing stellar versions of his 1949 hits "Wedding Blues," "Lovesick Blues," "You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)" and "Mind Your Own Business," as well as the enduring cuts "I Saw the Light," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and "I'm a Long Gone Daddy." Of particular note is one episode features Williams performing "The Tramp on the Street," the only known recording of the singer performing the probing country ballad. Information: amazon.com.
Artist: Steve Goodman
Titles: "Artistic Hair" and "Affordable Art" (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: John Denver, Harry Chapin, Jimmy Buffett
Tell me more: Omnivore Recordings has continued to reintroduce deserving, under-the-radar artists via via expanded editions. A celebration of singer-songwriter Steve Goodman is being launched with reissues of his final two albums, Artistic Hair (1983) and Affordable Art (1984). Set for release on July 19, these titles not only offer the original track lists but a slew of bonus tracks. Fans of Harry Chapin, Jimmy Buffett and John Denver will all find plenty to admire in the work and artful songs of Goodman. While the artist battled leukemia throughout his career (and he sadly passed away at the age of 36 in September 1984), his positive “Cool Hand Leuk” artistic drive resulted in glowing style of songs that shines through across these two releases. The late singer-songwriter Steve Goodman is best known for his bona fide masterpiece "City of New Orleans" (a Top 20 hit for Arlo Guthrie in 1972), but his parade of top-tier songs extended far beyond that American standard as evidenced by expanded editions of these two releases. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.
Artist: Mrs. Henry
Title: Mrs. Henry Presents The Last Waltz (Blind Owl Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Band, Neil Young, Bob Dylan
Tell me more: More than 40 years after the legendary concert was put to film via Martin Scorsese’s“The Last Waltz,” modern-day San Diego-based quartet Mrs. Henry recreated the event on the stage at The Belly Up in Solana Beach (a legendary venue in North San Diego County). That stunning tribute is available via the ambitious Mrs. Henry presents The Last Waltz (available on 2-disc audio CD or 3xLP vinyl). Mrs. Henry (keyboardist-vocalist Jody Bagley, guitarist-vocalist Dan Cervantes, bassist-vocalist Blake Dean, drummer Chad Lee) put in an incredible amount of work, but armed with musical passion and a parade of more than two dozen fellow musicians (including members of Sacri Monti, Louise XIV and The Schizophonics), the glorious results can now be heard by all. Timeless tracks such as “Up On Cripple Creek,” “The Weight,” “Caledonia” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” are captured with emotion and authenticity. The collection will be released on July 12. Information: BlindOwlSD.com or www.mrshenry.com.
Artist: Henry Townsend and Roosevelt Sykes
Title: Blues Piano and Guitar (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Walter Davis, Robert Nighthawk, Big Joe Williams
Tell me more: Earlier this year Omnivore Recordings released Henry Townsend and Roosevelt Sykes’ Blues Piano and Guitar, a two-disc set featuring 30 previously unissued tracks from a 1973 concert performance of interest to lovers of traditional blues. This incredible title features the talents of two artists who were among key players of early blues music; Roosevelt Skyes (on piano and vocals) and Henry Townsend (vocals, guitar and piano) were both born at the dawn of the 20th century and made major contributions to the genre. On this recording the two St. Louis bluesmen are captured late in their career – just the right stage of life for each to tap into their collective experiences to mine the reaches of “Done Got Tired,” “The War Is Over” and “Ready, Willing And Able.” Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.