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First Four Albums

Barney KesselAudio CD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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First Four Albums + 7 Classic Albums - Barney Kessel
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 11, 2008)
  • Original Release Date: 2008
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Avid Records UK
  • ASIN: B0012SWVKG
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,143 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Easy Like
2. Tenderly
3. Lullaby Of Birdland
4. What Is There To Say?
5. Bernardo
6. Vicky's Dream
7. Salute To Charlie Christian
8. That's All
9. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
10. Just Squeeze Me
See all 24 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Begin The Blues
2. Louisiana
3. Happy Feeling
4. Embraceable You
5. Wail Street
6. Indiana
7. Moten Swing
8. Midnight Sun
9. Contemporary Blues
10. Don't Blame Me
See all 22 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

(2-CD set) Barney Kessel was a self taught guitarist whose main influence was the legendary and tragic jazz guitarist Charlie Christian. After playing in local bands Barney relocated to Los Angeles where he freelanced for such great band leaders as Charlie Barnet, Artie Shaw, Les Brown and Benny Goodman. We include his first four LP's in their entirety (minus one short track): Easy Like, Plays Standards, To Swing Or Not To Swing and Music To Listen To Barney Kessel By. Supported by such fine award winning musicians as Shelly Manne, Bud Shank, Harry Edison and Bill Perkins these four albums show us what a superb guitarist and arranger Barney Kessel really was!

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JAZZ GUITAR GENIUS. ONE OF THE FINEST EVER........ January 20, 2011
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic offering of Barney Kessel's first four recordings. Coming aboard for these recordings from the West Coast stables are the likes of brilliant musicians such as Shelly Manne, Bud Shank, Red Mitchell, Buddy Collette, Andre Previn, Hampton Hawes, George Auld, Jimmy Rowles, Harry Edison plus others. So needless to say this is an ensemble of some of the finest jazz mucicians available anywhere. These sessions are from the periods of 1953 through 1956. Barney's guitar technique is amazing. Soft and yet intense, gentle and yet aggressive. Some of my favorites from the 4 recordings are Carioca (which features some brilliant Shelly Manne tom-tom work), Salute To Charlie Christian (whom was Barney's main influence), Barney's Blues, Blues For A Playboy, 64 Bars On Wilshire, Begin The Blues, Lullaby Of Birdland, Contemporary Blues, My Reverie, Wail Street and Laura. Barney demonstrates his mastery of his instrument well and all of the supporting musicians are on their A game also. With a lineup like this there are no B games available. It was interesting to me to discover that Barney started out with The Chico Marx band, of The Marx Brothers fame. Barney ranks up there with the greatest jazz guitarists of all time, at least to me. If you are not familiar with Barney's work this is a very inexpensive introduction to some fantastic jazz and a simply brilliant player. A man that knew his craft and demonstrated his chops superbly. If you love great jazz as I do you should really dig this disc. A 2 disc set loaded with genius. I give this a very strong 5 stars. Check out my other reviews.

John W. Shearer
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars COOL BOP-INFLUENCED WEST COAST JAZZ April 12, 2008
Format:Audio CD
There's only one track missing from this compilation, which is excusable, given that both CDs run to over 79 minutes. The albums in question, which date from the mid-fifties, are "Easy Like" (on which Bud Shank plays flute and alto), "BK Plays Standards" (featuring Bob Cooper on oboe), "To Swing Or Not To Swing" (including Harry "Sweets" Edison, Georgie Auld, Jimmy Rowles, Al Hendrickson, and Shelley Manne, but minus "Twelfth Street Rag"), and "Music To Listen To BK By". The influence of Charlie Christian on Kessel's playing is in evidence throughout, and I've thoroughly enjoyed this compilation of cool bop-influenced West Coast jazz.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barney Kessel at his Best February 4, 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
~ Direct descendent and heir to the throne of Charlie Christian, Barney Kessel's guitar playing incorporated the best of swing, bop, and beyond. Through years of studio work backing a multitude of singers and instrumentalists he developed an unparalleled ability to accompany and solo in a variety of settings and styles. Oscar Peterson talked Barney into leaving the studios and joining his Trio for a brief one year spanning 1952-1953, after which Barney returned to studio work. Fortunately, Contemporary Records signed Barney to make a series of excellent jazz records from 1953 to 1961 (including several trio sessions under the name "The Poll Winners" with Ray Brown and Shelly Manne). Barney's Contemporary recordings just may be the best of his career as these CDs clearly show. The albums contained on this convenient two-CD are, as the title indicates, the first four Kessel-led albums - almost. One track ("12th Street Rag") from the "To Swing or Not to Swing" was omitted from disk two. Even with that omission the disks clock in at 79 minutes each. For the sake of complete honesty it should be noted that did Barney did lead earlier recording sessions for Onyx and Verve - each of which produced four tunes.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ This set features Kessel in a cool bop quintet session recorded in November & December 1953 and February 1956. The front line features either Bud Shank (8 tracks) or Buddy Collette (4 tracks) on flute and alto. Shelley Manne on drums anchors the fine rhythm section of Arnold Ross (8 tracks) or Claude Williamson (4 tracks) on piano, Harry Babasin (8 tracks) or Red Mitchell (4 tracks) on bass on all sessions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great guitar and great West Coast jazz January 3, 2014
Format:Audio CD
This is a wonderful find for guitarists who wish to study Kessel's style as well as jazz fans who love jazz from the early-to-mid 1950s and especially West Coast Jazz. In fact you can practically chronicle the nascent West Coast scene from the four albums contained in this set.

Sound quality is surprisingly good considering the crude recording equipment and techniques in the early 1950s. Note that if the sound separation sounds funny to you there was no such thing as stereo when these albums were recorded. Regardless, the sound is rich (to my ears) and short of tracking down the vinyl copies of these albums is about as good as you are going to get.

The four albums are provided on two discs. While this package is somewhat short on documentation I have tracked down the discographies so you can enjoy not only the music, but know who performed. I have also linked to the source albums and two of those have sound samples on their product pages. Here are the albums, all of which were recorded in Los Angeles for the Contemporary label:
Easy Like is the first twelve tracks that was recorded in three sessions: Tenderly, Bernardo, Vicky's Dream and Just Squeeze Me were recorded on November 14, 1953 by Bud Shank on alto sax and flute, Arnold Ross on piano, Kessel on guitar, Harry Babasin on bass and Shelly Manne on drums.

The same ensemble was on the second session on December 19, 1953, which recorded Lullaby Of Birdland, What Is There To Say, Salute To Charlie Christian and I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It was great to hear what he sounded like in a variety ...
I had never purchased any recordings of Barney Kessel until now. It was great to hear what he sounded like in a variety of tunes and albums.
Published 22 days ago by William Bolande
4.0 out of 5 stars A master guitarist plays a lot of jazz
Oh, yeah!
Published 1 month ago by Johnny Motelle
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great stuff and a great price but some of the songs were mislabeled; not the end of the world.
Published 1 month ago by Tom Paronis
4.0 out of 5 stars Barney Kessel cooks !
Barney Kessel was a guitar Icon . There is a lot of music here with coverage of the first four albums. Barney was the first Jazz player that for me used a tone knob :-)
Published 8 months ago by Bay_thoven
5.0 out of 5 stars Barney on Contemporary.
Barney Kessel has always been one of my musical heroes. He is shone to great advantage here acoompanied by Sweets Edison, Bob Cooper,Shelly Manne,and others. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Michael Palermo
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW
I had only heard Barney as part of a larger band. This opportunity to get his first four albums on two discs could not be passed. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Mike McElroy
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for Jazz guitar lovers
This is truely great Jazz guitar music. As a guitar player I recomend it to all. I hope to learn to play some of it.
Published 16 months ago by Flying Fisherman
5.0 out of 5 stars 160 minutes of light jazz from the '50's, guitar-dominated by a...
Buy this before it vanishes. Barney was one of half-dozen best jazz pickers of the 40's, 50's and 60's, and these first four albums as a leader are just full of pleasant sounds. Read more
Published 16 months ago by William E. Adams
5.0 out of 5 stars Great guitarist
I've always liked Barney's guitar playing as, I'm a guitarist as well, so this album is some of his good stuff.
Published 17 months ago by hille polak
5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure trove of great jazz guitar playing.
Can beat the price or the music. A great buy on some outstanding music. Perfect for the jazz guitar aficionado.
Published 18 months ago by jr
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