Wes Montgomery's influence on Tortoise


On Thursday, Tortoise will bring good vibes (perhaps literally) to Radio Radio. The Chicago mostly-instrumental post rockers are touring The Catatrophist, their first album since 2009's Beacons of Ancestorship, and one of the only releases to include vocals. Those vocals, contributed in part by Yo La Tengo's Georgia Hubley and U.S. Maple's Todd Rittman, are what has been most remarked upon in reviews of the release, but when NUVO spoke with Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker on the phone, the conversation skewed much more to the instrumental noodlings on the record – and their inspiration. Parker, a now-Los Angeles-based Chicagoan, was influenced heavily by the legends of Indianapolis jazz.

Here's Parker on the great Wes Montgomery (and, related, here's all of NUVO's reporting on Wes Montgomery through the years):

"There are a lot of great, great [musicians from Indianapolis.] Freddie Hubbard, J.J. Johnson. Wes, Freddie and J.J. are three of my favorites and huge inspirations to me. I just a bought J.J. Johnson record. ...I have so many records I can't remember the title.

"Wes Montgomery was the musician that really revealed to me that jazz music was a high art form. He kind of started me on my way. When I was 14 or 15, my father came home from work and I had on headphones. He asked me what I was listening to, and I said, 'I'm listening to Return To Forever.' Super shreddy fusion from the late '70s. And he said, 'Hey, that music is cool, but you should check out some Wes Montgomery.' I said, 'Man, I heard that guy. He just doesn't have any chops.' [laughs] 'He doesn't have any chops!' The next day my dad came home with Wes Montgomery, that album Full House. I put it on and was like, 'Wow!' After that I was just kind of on my way."

If you go:

Thursday, Mar. 24, 8 p.m.,

Radio Radio, 1119 E. Prospect St.,

$15 in advance, $20 at door, 21+


Editor of NUVO Newsweekly since 2016; formerly Music Editor. Lover of justice, cats, local hip-hop, axe-throwing, sailing and pies. Hater of fake news.

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