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Barney Kessel

One of the finest guitarists to emerge after the death of Charlie Christian, Barney Kessel was a reliable bop soloist throughout his career. He played with a big band fronted by Chico Marx (1943), was fortunate enough to appear in the classic jazz short Jammin' the Blues (1944), and then worked with the big bands of Charlie Barnet (1944-1945) and Artie Shaw (1945); he also recorded with Shaw's Gramercy Five. Kessel became a busy studio musician in Los Angeles, but was always in demand for jazz records. He toured with the Oscar Peterson Trio for one year (1952-1953) and then, starting in 1953, led an impressive series of records for Contemporary that lasted until 1961 (including several with Ray Brown and Shelly Manne in a trio accurately called the Poll Winners). After touring Europe with George Wein's Newport All-Stars (1968), Kessel lived in London for a time (1969-1970). In 1973, he began touring and recording with the Great Guitars, a group also including Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd. A serious stroke in 1992 put Barney Kessel permanently out of action, but many of his records (which include dates for Onyx, Black Lion, Sonet, and Concord, in addition to many of the Contemporaries) are available, along with several video collections put out by Vestapol. Kessel was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in 2001, which eventually took his life in May of 2004. He was 80 years old. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Carmen's Cool

1. Flowersville

2. Like, There's No Place Like

3. Viva El Toro!

4. The Gypsy's Hip

5. Carmen's Cool

6. Free As A Bird

7. If You Dig Me

8. A Pad On The Edge Of Town

9. Swingin' The Toreador

10. Stairways To The Stars

11. Some Like It Hot

12. I Wanna Be Loved By You

13. Sweet Sue

14. Runnin' Wild

15. I'm Thru With Love

16. Sweet Georgia Brown

17. Down Among The Sheltering Palms

18. By The Beautiful Sea

19. Sugar Blues

x

Track List: Plays The American Songbook

1. April In Paris

2. How Long Has This Been Going On?

3. Carioca

4. Embraceable You

5. Fascinating Rhythm

6. A Foggy Day

7. Don't Blame Me

8. Cheerful Little Earful

9. Gone With The Wind

10. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart

11. I Didn't Know What Time It Was

12. Just Squeeze Me

13. Jeepers Creepers

14. Laura

15. Love Is Here To Stay

16. You Stepped Out Of A Dream

17. Makin' Whoopee

18. What Is There To Say?

19. Prelude To A Kiss

20. Mountain Greenery

x

Track List: Hair Is Beautiful

1. Aquarius

2. Frank Mills

3. Where Do I Go

4. I Got Life

5. Walking In Space

6. Ain't Got No

7. Easy To Be Hard

8. Be-In (Hare Krishna)

9. Good Morning Starshine

10. Donna

x

Track List: The Ultimate Jazz Archive 30 (4 Of 4)

1. Seven Come Eleven

2. Night And Day

3. Long Ago And Far Away

4. Somebody Loves Me

5. Strike Up The Band

6. 'S Wonderful

7. I Got Rhythm

8. Love Walked In

9. Tenderly

10. Bernardo

11. Vicky's Dream

12. Just Squeeze Me

13. What Is There To Say?

14. Salute To Charlie Christian

15. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart

16. Lullaby Of Birdland

17. Barney's Blues

x

Track List: Blue Guitar

1. Willow Weep For Me

2. On A Clear Day, You Can See Forever

3. How High The Moon

4. Aquarius

5. More Than You Know

6. The Look Of Love

7. Honeysuckle Rose

8. ET Maintenant

9. Little Star

10. Out Of Nowhere

11. It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got The Swing)

12. Tea For Two

13. Limehouse Blues

14. Blue Moon

x

Track List: Plays For Lovers

1. Embraceable You

2. I'm Glad There Is You

3. What Is There To Say?

4. Satin Doll

5. My Funny Valentine

6. This Guy's In Love With You

7. Angel Eyes

8. Just In Time

9. My Reverie

10. Love Is Here To Stay

11. Tenderly

12. It Could Happen To You

13. My Old Flame

14. Laura

15. You Go To My Head

16. I'm Through With Love

x

Track List: Collectables Jazz Classics

Disc 1

1. Moon River

2. Something For Cat

3. Sally's Tomato

4. Mr Yunioshi

5. The Big Blow Out

6. Hub Caps and Tail Lights

7. Breakfast at Tiffanys

8. Latin Golightly

9. Holly

10. Loose Caboose

11. The Big Heist

12. Moon River Cha Cha

13. Love For Sale

14. A String Of Pearls

15. They Cant Take That Away From Me

16. Summertime

17. You Came A Long Way From St Louis

19. Heartaches

20. It Aint Necessarily So

21. Jada

22. Sweet Georgia Brown

24. Bye Bye Blues

Disc 2

1. Blues In The Night

2. Days Of Wine And Roses

4. Lady Byrd

5. One Note Samba

6. The Peanut Vendor

7. Quizas Quizas Quizas

8. Everytime I Hear This Song

9. Love

10. Twilight In Acapulco

x

Track List: Solo

1. Brazil

2. What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?

3. Happy Little Song

4. Everything Happens To Me

5. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life

6. Manha del Carnaval

7. People

8. Jellybeans

9. Alfie

x

Track List: Yesterday

1. Laura

2. Yesterday

3. It's A Blue World

4. Old Devil Moon

5. Summertime

6. In The Garden Of Love

7. Bridging The Blues

8. Tea For Two

x

Track List: Breakfast At Tiffany's

1. Moon River

2. Something For Cat

3. Sally's Tomato

4. Mr. Yunioshi

5. The Big Blow Out

6. Hub Caps And Tail Lights

7. Breakfast At Tiffany's

8. Latin Golightly

9. Holly

10. Loose Caboose

11. The Big Heist

12. Moon River Cha Cha

x

Track List: Let's Cook!

1. Let's Cook!

2. Time Remembered

3. Just In Time

4. Tiger Rag

5. Jersey Bounce

x

Track List: To Swing Or Not To Swing

1. Begin The Blues

2. Louisiana

3. Happy Feeling

4. Embraceable You

5. Wall Street

6. Indiana

7. Moten Swing

8. Midnight Sun

9. Contemporary Blues

10. Don't Blame Me

11. 12th Steet Rag

x

Track List: Kessel Plays Standards

1. Speak Low

2. Love Is Here To Stay

3. On A Slow Boat To China

4. How Long Has This Been Going On?

5. My Old Flame

6. Jeepers Creepers

7. Barney's Blues

8. Prelude To A Kiss

9. A Foggy Day

10. You Stepped Out Of A Dream

11. I Didn't Know What Time it Was

12. 64 Bars On Wilshire

x

Track List: Easy Like: Barney Kessel: Volume 1

1. Easy Like

3. Tenderly

4. Lullaby Of Birdland

5. What Is There To Say?

6. Bernardo

7. Vicky's Dream

8. Salute To Charlie Christian

9. That's All

10. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart

11. Just Squeeze Me

12. April In Paris

13. North Of The Border

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Saw Barney Kessel a number of times with the Great Guitars, mostly at Constitution Hall in DC. The theme from the Flintstones was always a crowd pleaser!
Report as inappropriate
I'm not denying that Barney K did some fine work, but some of it is kind of loungey.
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Mmmmmm...goo d !
Report as inappropriate
Barneys album Swinging Easy! is one of his best and mysteriously was omitted from this Pandora discography. Recorded on October 29,30,& 31 1968 at Polydor Studios in London, Swinging Easy! was available in the United States through Audiofidelit y Enterprises of NYC.
Report as inappropriate
DON'T L@@K because it actually works. You will be missed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. However if u don't post this u will die in two days. Now you've started so you can't stop now this is so scary. Put this on 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will come on the screen in big letters!Leav e a coment!!!!!! God will show his utter wrath upon you all if you don't!!! GOD IS UPON US
Report as inappropriate
Ann Fantastic,so heavenly!!!
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My thoughts: Kessel is highly skilled.
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I never tire of his artistry, beautiful !!! :-)
Report as inappropriate
What an awesome guitarist !!!! :-) :-)
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Awesome artist! Needs more listeners.
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Barney played many fine backgrounds for Julie London's torchy songs
Report as inappropriate
There is nothing like the sound of those hollow body electric guitars
Report as inappropriate
ewilbanks
The Great Guitar albums were outa sight. Actually heard them play in Houston
Report as inappropriate
Pass. Montgomery. Kessel. Green.
My personal holy grail!!!!
Report as inappropriate
wabash0
I caught part of an old Perry Mason episode not long ago and there was Barney! I don't believe they mentioned his name or the other players but they were an integral though anonymous part of the action. I'd sure like to see that whole episode or get the name.
Report as inappropriate
MY DAD TOOK LESSONS FROM BARNEY AND BARNEY TOLD HIM THAT HE WAS A NATURAL GUITAR PLAYER AND COULD PLAY AS WELL AS HE DID. JOHN B MONTELONGO
Report as inappropriate
Barney could swing his a** off.. better than anybody...oh and by the way HE INVENTED SWEEP PICKING!!! Yes I love Frank Gambale too, but Barney invented it!
Report as inappropriate
Now I can hear why Montgomery and Burrell are so smooth....Ke s s e l can cook when he wants to.
Report as inappropriate
I know Barney through his son , David , we were roommates in college , an excellent guitarist himself , I learned much about the personal side of mr. Kessel , unbelievable talent and innovater of the guitar , truly one of the all time greats , I even met him once.
Hey David , if you're out there , this is Kent , email : tuthmaker@gm a i l . c o m
Report as inappropriate
Grew up on Barney Kessel. I'm old, he must be very old. I love his stuff.
Report as inappropriate
I get goosebumps when I listen to Barney Kessel. You can feel his joy through his playing. My father played the guitar and BK's style was a BIG influence!
Report as inappropriate
Saw Barney play duets live with Herb Ellis. What an amazing night that was! Two of the finest together. Barney's sense of humor was unparalleled , too, as evidenced by one of my favorite album titles of all time: Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By.
Report as inappropriate
grandlake50
I own a classic small body Gibson guitar...and would rather dance than play...but if ever I get past C, G, and F...may I play like this guy...
Report as inappropriate
I love Barney Kessel. He's just got that perfect combination of traits: He can be soulful and bluesy, can burn at blazing tempos, but can melt your soul with his gorgeous chord-melody stuff. It seems like there's nothing he can't do. I'm a bop alto player, who just dabbles in jazz guitar. But if I ever got into guitar in a big way, I'd play like Barney! My favorite jazz guitarist.
Report as inappropriate
One of the musicians who informed/inf l u e n c e d Antonio Carlos Jobim.
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savageflaneu r
wow. I feel so incredibly relieved somehow to read all these comments. Gentleman you are wonderful. Sincere thanks for whatever lives you have led that brought you to love BK. Blessings be upon you all!
Report as inappropriate
Barney takes his time and I see a similarity between him and Toots Thielmans (check it out) when Toots hit the guitar. I'd have to wonder what Charlie Christian would have done to a Gibson hollow body with some help from Les Paul.
Report as inappropriate
ditto stonecutter :)
Report as inappropriate
Criminally under rated in the big picture of Jazz, guitar, and swing. Barney Kessel is a legend. As mentioned below, his physical technique was untouchable. His sense of blues phrasing is my favorite of all jazz guitar players. Nobody bent notes on Jazz Guitar better than BK.
Report as inappropriate
Another classic performer. Barney Kessel was a true prodigy.
Report as inappropriate
No effects, no reverb, no vibrato - just great hands, fingers, and master musicianship .
Report as inappropriate
philipjwagne r
In high school, we guitarists kneeled at the foot of our record players, marveling at Barney's sense of line.
Report as inappropriate
always one of my faves.
Report as inappropriate
Barney Kessel set the standard for all Jazz guitarists that followed.

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