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December 14, 2016

Dennis Coffey 1973
(Photo Courtesy of Clarence Avant, Interior Music Corp)

Features organist Lyman Woodard (Martha Reeves & the Vandellas)
& drummer Melvin Davis (Smokey Robinson, Wayne Kramer)

Includes extensive 56-page book of liner notes with archival photos; essays
by producers Zev Feldman and Kevin Goins; plus interviews with Coffey,
Melvin Davis, original recording co-producer Mike Theodore, music industry icon Clarence Avant and Motor City soul singer Bettye LaVette.
Plus original album cover art by Detroit-native cartoonist/illustrator
Bill Morrison (The Simpsons, Futurama)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Resonance Records proudly announces the release of Dennis Coffey's Hot Coffey in the D: Burnin’ at Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge, a set of previously unreleased live recordings made during the legendary guitarist’s 1968 residency at the Detroit venue featuring Motor City staples on the scene — organist Lyman Woodard and drummer Melvin Davis. The album will be released as a Deluxe CD & Digital edition on January 13, 2017 (the limited edition deluxe vinly LP was released on Record Store Day's Black Friday Event on November 25, 2016).

In the late ’60s, Coffey was a fixture in the fertile Detroit soul recording studio scene, where he helped shape the sound of countless hits for Detroit’s indie soul labels Golden World, Ric-Tic, Kelmac and Revilot, among others. Jack Montgomery’s “Dearly Beloved,” The Reflections’ “Just Like Romeo and Juliet” and Darrell Banks’s “Open the Door to Your Heart” are just a few of the Northern Soul classics of that era that Coffey played on. At the same time, organist Lyman Woodard was the musical director for Martha [Reeves] and the Vandellas (“Heat Wave”) and Melvin Davis was busy cutting 45s of his own as a vocalist on the Groovesville, Fortune and Mala labels and landing a number regional hits including “This Love Was Meant To Be”/”Save It (Never Too Late).”

As Coffey’s renown as a top funk studio guitarist grew among the movers and shakers of the Detroit music scene, on the recommendation of legendary Motown bass player James Jamerson, producer Norman Whitfield recruited Coffey to play on records he was producing for Motown. Thus Coffey became established as a “Funk Brother,” a member of one of the world’s preeminent studio ensembles, which formed the backbone of countless Motown hit records and which was the subject of the celebrated GRAMMY® Award-winning (soundtrack) feature-length documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002), in which Coffey is featured.

On Norman Whitfield’s productions for Motown, Coffey contributed to the evolving soul and funk sound coming out of Detroit by introducing guitar innovations like fuzz-tone distortion, Echoplex tape delay and wah-wah, previously the exclusive province of rock and roll players. This new style developed by Coffey can be heard on such mega-hits as the Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today),” Edwin Starr’s “War,” and the Supremes’ “Someday We’ll Be Together,” among many others. Coffey’s sound was something new and different and lent a modern feel to all the records he played on. Eventually, the demand for Coffey’s magic touch led to appearances on recordings by Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and many others.

In addition to the virtuosity he imparted on other artists’ records, Coffey, along with his partner, Mike Theodore (co-producer with Coffey of the original recordings that make up this album), also produced recordings for a number of successful artists, as well as hit projects of their own. The iconic music executive Clarence Avant engaged Coffey and Theodore, through their company Theo-Coff, to produce sessions, create arrangements and write songs for projects he released on his labels, Maverick/Venture and Sussex Records.

As producers, writers and talent scouts, Coffey and Theodore looked beyond soul and funk and ventured into new stylistic areas: rock, pop, folk and Latin. Coffey and Theodore discovered and produced albums by Sixto Rodriguez, the subject of the Oscar®-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man (2012). They had a million seller rock hit, “Nice to Be With You” by the band Gallery, and Coffey had his own million-seller instrumental funk hit, “Scorpio,” which Theodore produced.

Coffey may have been toiling in the studios making classic funk records during the daylight hours, but by night, he and fellow Detroit soul and studio funk masters organist Lyman Woodard and drummer Melvin Davis were doing their own thing holding forth in local Detroit clubs as a jazz/funk ensemble billed as the Lyman Woodard Trio, fronted by Coffey’s distinctive guitar playing and arrangements. Their first gigs were in 1966 at a club called the Frolic Show Bar. In 1967, the trio left the Frolic and began an extended tenure at Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge, where this set was recorded.

Melvin Davis says about Woodard, “Lyman Woodard was probably one of the premier organists to come out of the East Coast actually. He was a very accomplished musician; he was a person that had a very extensive following in the city of Detroit.”

At Morey Baker’s, the trio played to a loyal following of discerning listeners who came every night just to listen to them play, rather than simply to dance. Therefore, it was important for the trio to maintain a distinct and compelling musical identity that evolved over time. They couldn’t just revisit the same material over and over and expect to hold onto their audience. Coffey says, “We played there once a week and always packed the house. Much of our audience was middle to upper class folks who were judges, attorneys, businessmen and women who just loved listening to our brand of funk, jazz, rock and soul. I even hooked up a strobe light to the stage and would hit the switch that shut off the main lights. The strobe would go off while we’d jam on stage. It blew their minds!”

Coffey was always on the lookout for new and interesting repertoire and he would constantly bring in new music from different genres, having worked out all the musical arrangements in advance, as is evidenced by the repertoire on this album, which includes covers of soul classics such as “Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over),” which Coffey played on in its original Ruby Andrews studio version; pop hits of the day such as the rousing version of Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix”treated in Coffey’s signature style; a smoldering version of Burt Bacharach’s “The Look of Love,”made popular by Dusty Springfield in 1967; a faithful adaptation of the Herbie Hancock classic “Maiden Voyage”; as well as two Coffey originals — the opening-distortion-laden funk opus “Fuzz” and the infectious and grooving “The Big D.”

The music on Hot Coffey in the D: Burnin’ at Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge represents the trio in a raw and unfiltered display of their prodigious musical gifts. Indeed the recordings that make up this album served as the springboard for Dennis Coffey and Mike Theodore to be picked up by Clarence Avant on his own Sussex Records label, effectively launching their producing career in earnest. Another springboard was the seminal soul-funk instrumental album Hair and Thangs , which was released on the Maverick label (distributed by Venture Records) in 1969 under Dennis’s name featuring both Lyman Woodard and Melvin Davis, and included a psychedelic version of the Isley Brothers' hit “It’s Your Thing.”

The release of this unique album is the direct result of the long friendship between Resonance producer Zev Feldman and the respected music journalist Kevin Goins, recognized expert on the Detroit music scene. They have been colleagues and friends for years dating back to Goins’ days in retail at the HMV store in New York in the ’90s, while Feldman was rising in the ranks of the PolyGram organization. In early 2016, Goins learned from Coffey that these performances at Morey Baker’s had been recorded using studio quality gear and immediately called Feldman to alert him to the availability of this previously unheard session. Feldman recalls, “I was so excited when Kevin first told me about the existence of these tapes. Right off the bat I was intrigued and felt compelled to release these recordings and tell the story of Dennis Coffey, who is to me one of the unsung heroes of guitar.”

To Feldman, Dennis Coffey was a fascinating figure and an essential member of the guitar pantheon of popular music. Already aware of Coffey’s stellar history, it impressed Feldman that Coffey’s career as a guitarist/producer/arranger and artist spanned myriad styles and that he had a distinctive guitar sound that influenced so many guitarists of the day and many who followed. In 2011, the Fuel 2000 label released Absolutely the Best of Dennis Coffey, a collection of all of Dennis’s 1970s output on Sussex, and Feldman handled the marketing of the album. This experience solidified Feldman’s conviction that this music deserved to be heard, that there was an audience for it — indeed a loyal audience that would be thrilled that this previously unknown music would be available to them. “In my time working as the SVP of Sales and Marketing at Fuel 2000 Records, we released many of the masters from Clarence Avant’s catalog of albums. I became a big fan of Dennis and Mike Theodore during that time and knew the importance of their legacy and Dennis’s artistry.”

Once again, consistent with its mission to honor the traditions of great American music in all its glory, Resonance Records has pulled out all the stops in creating this release. The deluxe CD and LP packages feature stunning original cover art by acclaimed cartoonist and Metro Detroit native Bill Morrison, who was one of the original illustrators on The Simpsons, art director of Futurama and one of the co-founders of Bongo Comics with Matt Groening . Feldman was searching for a particular vibe for this project that harkened back to the feeling he would get gazing at psychedelic ’60s LP covers like Sgt. Pepper’s and reading Mad magazine. “We struck out trying to get Robert Crumb and Al Jaffee,” Feldman explains, “so our associate producer Zak Shelby-Szyszko suggested we look into artists that have Detroit roots. When he sent me Bill Morrison’s work, I knew right away he was the guy. And working with him was such a treat. We’d provide buzzwords about the characters, look and vibe we were going for and he delivered this masterpiece.”

The deluxe CD package also includes extensive liner notes with rare photos by acclaimed Detroit photographers such as Leni Sinclair , essays by Resonance producer Zev Feldman and veteran music journalist Kevin Goins , plus interviews with Dennis Coffey, Melvin Davis and Mike Theodore, along with entertainment industry icon Clarence Avant and Detroit soul singer Bettye LaVette . The limited-edition, hand-numbered LP pressing on 180-gram black vinyl was released on Record Store Day’s Black Friday event on November 25, 2016 and was mastered by the legendary Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering and pressed at Record Technology, Inc. (RTI).

Resonance Records continues to bring archival recordings to light. Headquartered in Beverly Hills, Calif., 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 Richard Galliano, Polly Gibbons, Tamir Hendelman, Christian Howes and Donald Vega.

Pre-order on iTunes and receive 2 tracks instantly: "Fuzz " and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix"

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November 3, 2015

Dr. Willis Kirk, Monk Montgomery, Wes Montgomery, Buddy Montgomery.Henri’s (on Indiana Avenue,Indianapolis), circa mid-1950s. Photographer unknown. Courtesy of Dr. Willis Kirk.


Never-before-released recording of
legendary guitarist Wes Montgomery playing with
jazz pianist Eddie Higgins

An exclusive 1959 performance recorded live in Indianapolis

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Resonance Records is proud to release the CD edition of Wes Montgomery One Night In Indy, an exclusive 1959 live recording of the jazz-guitar great playing with the legendary jazz pianist Eddie Higgins and his trio in Indianapolis, Indiana. Available on January 15, 2016, the CD edition follows the release of the 12" LP limited-edition pressing for Record Store Day’s Black Friday event on November 27, 2015 (originally scheduled for last April’s Record Store Day event, but was held up due to a production snafu). Early in 2015, Resonance Records released the acclaimed In the Beginning, newly discovered recordings of Montgomery from 1949-1958.
In 2013, producer Zev Feldman was approached by the late, great Indiana photojournalist Duncan Schiedt with an enticing musical proposition (the two had become friends while working on the Wes Montgomery Echoes of Indiana 2012 Resonance release). Schiedt asked if Resonance would be interested in a prized recording he had in his possession — a 7" tape reel featuring a January 18, 1959 performance by Montgomery and the Eddie Higgins Trio, the only known documentation of any date featuring the guitarist and the pianist.

According to producer Feldman, Duncan and few of his friends ran a jazz club in Indianapolis known as the Indianapolis Jazz Club (or the I.J.C. known to locals). As Feldman describes in his essay included in the release, “The club was described to me as a group of people who had a common interest in jazz and who gathered to listen to records and host concerts.” Members of this club recorded this one-night-only performance of Wes Montgomery playing with the Eddie Higgins Trio. Feldman notes that Duncan “explained that this tape had been passed down to him by other members of the club, though no one had actually listened to it. Duncan was one of the last original members and hoped this tape would, one day, be released in partnership with the artists’ families.”
Resonance Records is pleased to honor this request and release One Night In Indy with the blessings of the Wes Montgomery Estate and Eddie Higgins’s widow, Meredith D’Ambrosio, whom Feldman found via Sunnyside Records president François Zalacain. This recording is a gift from Duncan Schiedt to Wes Montgomery fans, decades after the memorable performance.
The specially priced CD features just over 40 minutes of music. Accompanying these notable headliners is Chicago drum legend Walter Perkins (a former drummer for Ahmad Jamal’s trio before Vernell Fournier) and an unidentified bassist (to identify this musician Resonance consulted Higgins alumni Bob Cranshaw and John Bany, along with fellow Chicago bass legends from that era, to no avail).
Feldman notes, “I'm grateful to Duncan for his lasting friendship and for sharing this with the world to hear. It is nothing short of incredible that after decades of no new Montgomery music, Resonance has brought to light new documents that will help Wes's legacy live on — In the Beginning (2015), Echoes of Indiana Avenue (2012), and, thanks to Duncan, One Night In Indy.” Since releasing Echoes of Indiana Ave, Resonance has located additional of unreleased 1950’s archival Montgomery recordings and plans to release more music in late 2016/2017.
With his artistic sensibility of an Indianapolis cityscape view, Burton Yount designed the album cover. Mixing and sound restoration is by Fran Gala and executive producer George Klabin at the Resonance Records Studios.
1. Give Me the Simple Life (9:14)
2. Prelude to a Kiss (5:52)
3. Stompin’ at the Savoy (7:12)
4. Li’l Darling (8:09)
5. Ruby, My Dear (8:35)
6. You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To (2:51)

Resonance Records continues to bring archival recordings to light. Some past releases include the critically acclaimed 2015 Grammy Award-winning John Coltrane release Offering: Live at Temple University (best album notes, Ashley Kahn), Wes Montgomery In the Beginning, Charles Lloyd Manhattan Stories, and Bill Evans Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate. Located in Beverly Hills, CA, Resonance Records is a division of the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation, a California 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation created to discover the next jazz stars. Resonance Artists include Richard Galliano, Polly Gibbons, Tamir Hendelman, Christian Howes and Donald Vega.
For more information on Wes Montgomery One Night In Indy, please visit:


Hear an exclusive streaming track in PopMatters:



April 7, 2015




In the Beginning due out May 12, 2015 in two-CD deluxe digi-pack and separate three-LP set; features booklet with previously unpublished photos, plus essays and recollections from Quincy Jones, Pete Townshend, Bill Milkowski, Ashley Kahn, producer Zev Feldman, and more.

Includes excerpts from unpublished autobiography by Buddy Montgomery.Instant availability of four tracks with pre-order at iTunes

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — When Echoes of Indiana Avenue came out in 2012, it had been nearly 45 years since a full album of previously unheard Wes Montgomery music had been released. Fortunately, jazz lovers don’t have to wait another half-century for more discoveries from the legendary guitarist’s past. Once again, these treasures arrive to the record-buying public via the musical archaeologists at Los Angeles-based Resonance Records.

In the Beginning features recordings of Wes Montgomery spanning the years 1949 to 1958, the formative years when the six-string virtuoso was honing his craft in Southern Indiana. Since Wes Montgomery’s passing in 1968, only two other albums of predominantly unreleased material have been released: Willow Weep for Me (Verve, 1968) and Echoes of Indiana Avenue (Resonance, 2012). Resonance Records is pleased to introduce the third such archival offering with In the Beginning.

The 26-track collection will be released on May 12, 2015 as two-CD and three-LP sets. The CD version includes a 55-page booklet of liner notes by 2015 GRAMMY® Award-winning journalist and noted jazz historian and biographer Ashley Kahn, legendary producer Quincy Jones, guitarist Pete Townshend of The Who and others, alongside rare never-before-published photos from the Montgomery Estate and friends in Montgomery’s native Indianapolis.

In his liner notes, Kahn refers to In the Beginning as a journey back in time. Listeners will be gripped by the history and experiences underlying these recordings during this time of segregation, a time when the South had a brewing fear of integration. Musicians used back entrances to clubs, only to appear on the bandstand as entertainment, and were asked to leave at the end of their sets. The journey begins on the stage of Indianapolis’ Turf Club in the summer of 1956 and travels backward and forward over the course of two discs until arriving in the studios of Spire Records in Fresno, California in 1949, where a 26-year-old Montgomery was working as a sideman in a band led by tenor saxophonist Gene Morris that featured Sonny Parker on vocals.

This time machine makes stops at the home of younger sister Ervena Montgomery, where Wes uncharacteristically picks up — and solos on — an electric bass; at Indianapolis’ Missile Lounge in November 1958, where Wes is joined by organist and pianist Melvin Rhyne, bassist Flip Stewart and drummer Paul Parker; at the C&C Music Lounge on the South Side of Chicago for a twelve-minute 1957 exploration of “All the Things You Are” with tenor saxophonist Alonzo “Pookie” Johnson; and at Columbia Studios in New York City in 1955, where brothers Wes, Buddy and Monk Montgomery, “Pookie” and drummer Sonny Johnson were recorded and produced by a young Quincy Jones for the then-new Epic Records (recorded at the same studio that Miles Davis recorded Kind of Blue). For nearly 60 years, all five songs from that session (except “Love for Sale,” which later appeared on the 1983 Columbia Records compilation Almost Forgotten) have languished in the vaults.

The project began life in the wake of Echoes. Even before that release, Buddy Montgomery’s widow Ann approached producer Zev Feldman and Resonance founder and executive producer George Klabin with the Turf Club, Missile Lounge, and jam session recordings, looking for a respectful home for this never-before-released music. Philip Kahl, a 22-year-old Butler College student, had access to the brothers and recorded them at the aforementioned places with a portable tape recorder.

The revelations snowballed from there. A colleague offered up a tape made at the C&C Music Lounge, and a private collector in Austria revealed three 78 rpm sides featuring Wes as a sideman with Gene Morris and his Hamptones, two of them featuring vocalist Sonny Parker. “The 78s were rare and very difficult to find. Even the Library of Congress didn’t have them,” Feldman says. Drummer and jazz historian Kenny Washington tipped Feldman to the existence of the previously unissued Epic recordings, which were licensed from Sony Music Entertainment. Also included are tracks from the now sold-out limited edition 10” records Live at the Turf Club and Wes Montgomery & the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet issued for Record Store Day in April 2014.

In the Beginning features extensive liner notes and meticulously designed artwork that have become the label’s trademarks. The booklet begins with an introduction by producer Feldman and an essay by Kahn. The package also features a reminiscence by Quincy Jones; a biography of the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet (the name at that time of the brothers’ band with the unrelated Alfonso “Pookie” Johnson and drummer Sonny Johnson) by author and journalist Bill Milkowksi; an interview with Indianapolis- based jazz photojournalist, author and historian Duncan Shiedt, conducted shortly before his death in March 2014; a contribution by Dr. Willis F. Kirk, a drummer and former bandmate of the Montgomery brothers; an interview with Indianapolis native and legendary jazz bassist Dr. Larry Ridley (who was discovered to be the previously unidentified bassist on two tracks from the 2012 release of Echoes of Indiana Avenue, “Diablo’s Dance” and “Nica’s Dream”); and lastly a contribution by fellow guitar icon and lead guitarist and songwriter for the legendary rock group The Who, Pete Townshend. Feldman adds, “I wanted someone who was ‘outside’ the typical jazz guitar circle who admired Wes’s music. I suspected he was a fan of jazz guitar, based on the recording ‘To Barney Kessell’from his album Scoop, so I sent him copies of Echoes in 2012. Having him as a contributor on this project was an honor and privilege.”

In his essay, Townshend writes, “What comes across [in these recordings] is a sense of fun and discovery. There is mischief and experiment. This was a period when jazz was breaking ground on all fronts, and I hadn't realized how sophisticated a guitarist Wes was even in these early days . . . He stopped playing so flashily in the next decade, and concentrated more on atmosphere and expression — his playing became loving, gentle and poetic. He became a romantic. But on these sessions he’s a young blade, rocking out, speeding sometimes, challenged by his brother Buddy on piano who could elaborate either like falling drops of water on a tin roof, or like a machine gun.”

The In the Beginning booklet features passages from Monk Montgomery’s 1980 NEA-sponsored interview with Maggie Hawthorne, along with excerpts from a never-before-released, unpublished autobiography written by Buddy Montgomery. There are recollections by Buddy, including an interview with his sister Ervena. Buddy’s estate provided a wealth of rare photographs, such as a remarkable shot of Wes Montgomery standing behind a pinball machine taken by Philip Kahl at the Turf Club.

The three-LP version is presented on 180-gram vinyl mastered by engineering legend Bernie Grundman, and pressed on 12” LPs at 33 1/3 rpm by Record Technology Incorporated (R.T.I.) in a hand-numbered slipcase with an eight-panel booklet, a digital download card and collector postcards of unpublished photos. Digitally, a “Mastered for iTunes” configuration will also be available, along with a complete digital booklet with all contents contained in the physical editions. If pre-ordered on iTunes, customers will receive four tracks instantly: “Four” (recorded at the Turf Club), “A Night in Tunisia” (recorded at the Missile Lounge), “Far Wes” (recorded for Epic Records in 1955), and “Smooth Evening” (recorded in 1949 for Spire Records).

The set is attractively designed by Burton Yount, who has collaborated with Resonance on previous releases including Wes Montgomery’s Echoes of Indiana Ave and Bill Evans’ Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate. This project is made possible with the help of Robert Montgomery, Wes’s youngest son and the head of the Wes Montgomery Estate, who signed on as associate producer.

In short, as Feldman says, “This is another chapter of previously undiscovered Wes, one which aficionados couldn’t have even hoped existed a few short years ago. Resonance is proud to present another chapter in the legacy of Wes Montgomery.” Finally, if it couldn't get any better for Wes Montgomery fans, Resonance has signed on with the Wes Montgomery Estate to release even more previously unissued music sometime in 2016-2017. Resonance Records is making history preserving and documenting the legacy of Wes Montgomery, even 47 years after the giant’s passing.
In the Beginning is available for pre-order from Resonance Records: The label will be celebrating the release on Tuesday, May 12 at the famed Indianapolis jazz club, The Jazz Kitchen. For more details visit: .
Resonance Records and the Estate of Wes Montgomery are holding the first Wes Montgomery International Jazz Guitar Competition. We are looking for the next great jazz guitarist (ages 14-33) from anywhere in the world. The winner will receive $5,000 and the honor of playing with the Pat Martino band at the finalists competition in New York City. For more information visit:

For more information on In the Beginning and other Wes Montgomery releases, visit



Dennis Coffey 1973
(Photo Courtesy of Clarence Avant, Interior Music Corp)