Barney Kessel – Kessel Plays “Carmen” {Contemporary}[OJC]


Review by Scott Yanow
This is an unusual set that has been reissued on CD. During an era when many Broadway and movie scores were recorded in jazz settings (thanks in part to the success of Shelly Manne’s best-selling My Fair Lady album), guitarist Barney Kessel chose to interpret nine melodies from Bizet’s opera Carmen. The guitarist is heard in three different settings: joined by five woodwinds and a rhythm section; with five jazz horns (including altoist Herb Geller and trumpeter Ray Linn) and a trio; and with vibraphonist Victor Feldman in a quintet. Kessel also wrote the arrangements, which pay tribute to the melodies while not being shy of swinging the themes. An interesting if not essential project.

Tracklist:
01 – Swingin’ the Toreador 05:52
02 – A Pad on the Edge of Town 06:46
03 – If You Dig Me 04:04
04 – Free As a Bird 05:00
05 – Viva El Toro! 03:15
06 – Flowersville 06:00
07 – Carmen’s Cool 04:43
08 – Like, There’s No Place Like… 03:59
09 – The Gypsy’s Hip 03:56

Personnel:
Barney Kessel – guitar
Harry Betts – trombone
Ray Linn – trumpet
Herb Geller – alto sax
Justin Gordon – flute, alto flute, tenor sax
Chuck Gentry – baritone sax
Buddy Collette – flue, alto flute, clarinet
Bill Smith – clarinet, bass clarinet
Jules Jacob – oboe, clarinet
Pete Terry – bass clarinet, bassoon
Andre Previn – piano
Joe Mondragon – bass
Shelly Manne – drums

Recorded in Contemporary Records studio, Los Angeles; December 19 & 22, 1958.

Label: Contemporary / OJC
Year: 1986
Genre: Jazz
Total Time: 43:34

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Barney Kessel – To Swing or Not to Swing {Contemporary}[OJC]


Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

Guitarist Barney Kessel’s string of recordings for Contemporary in the 1950s included some of the finest work of his career. The unusual repertoire on this set — which includes “Louisiana,” “Indiana,” and “12th Street Rag,” along with four Kessel originals and more usual standards — would by itself make this bop/cool set noteworthy. Add to that a very interesting lineup of players (trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison, Georgie Auld or Bill Perkins on tenor, pianist Jimmy Rowles, the rhythm guitar of Al Hendrickson, bassist Red Mitchell, and Shelly Manne or Irv Cottler on drums) and some excellent showcases for Kessel, and the overall result is a CD highly recommended to fans of straight-ahead jazz.

Tracks:
01 – Begin the Blues
02 – Louisiana
03 – Happy Feeling
04 – Embraceable You
05 – Wail Street
06 – Indiana
07 – Moten Swing
08 – Midnight Sun
09 – Contemporary Blues
10 – Don’t Blame Me
11 – 12th Street Rag

Personnel:
Barney Kessel – guitar
Harry “Sweets” Edison – trumpet
Georgie Auld, Bill Perkins – tenor sax
Jimmy Rowles – piano
Al Hendrickson – rhythm guitar
Red Mitchell – bass
Irv Cottler, Shelly Manne – drums

Recorded in Los Angeles; March 28 and July 26, 1955.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Barney Kessel – Let’s Cook! {Contemporary}[OJC]


Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

This is an excellent session from guitarist Barney Kessel. Kessel is matched with vibraphonist Victor Feldman, pianist Hampton Hawes, bassist Leroy Vinnegar, and drummer Shelly Manne for a blues-with-a-bridge (the 11-minute “Let’s Cook”), Vernon Duke’s ballad “Time Remembered,” and “Just in Time.” The second half of the album has modernized versions of “Tiger Rag” and “Jersey Bounce” as played by the guitarist, tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, trombonist Frank Rosolino, pianist Jimmie Rowles, Vinnegar, and Manne. Throughout, Kessel keeps with the other all-stars, swinging hard while paying tribute to the legacy of Charlie Christian.

Tracks:
01 – Let’s Cook!
02 – Time Remembered
03 – Just in Time
04 – Tiger Rag
05 – Jersey Bounce

Personnel:
Barney Kessel – guitar
Ben Webster – tenor saxophone
Frank Rosolino – trombone
Victor Feldman – vibes
Hampton Hawes, Jimmy Rowles – piano
Leroy Vinnegar – bass
Shelly Manne – drums

Recorded at Contemporary’s Studio, Los Angeles; November 11, 1957 (#1-3) and
August 6, 1957 (#4,5)

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Shelly Manne – 2 3 4 {impulse!} “Analogue Productions”


Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

This unusual CD reissue has five selections from a date featuring the great tenor Coleman Hawkins, pianist Hank Jones, bassist George Duvivier and drummer Shelly Manne. Both “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Cherokee” find the group at times playing two tempos at once (Manne sticks to doubletime throughout “Cherokee”) and showing that they had heard some of the avant-garde players. The most swinging piece, “Avalon,” was previously available only on a sampler while “Me and Some Drums” features Hawkins and Manne in a very effective duet with the veteran tenor making his only recorded appearance on piano during the first half. This CD is rounded off by a pair of trio features for Eddie Costa (with Duvivier and Manne); one song apiece on vibes and drums. A very interesting set with more than its share of surprises.

Tracks:
01 – Take The “A” Train
02 – The Sicks of Us
03 – Slowly
04 – Lean on Me
05 – Cherokee
06 – Me and Some Drums

Personnel:
Shelly Manne – drums
George Duvivier – bass
Coleman Hawkins – tenor sax
Hank Jones – piano
Eddie Costa – piano and vibes

Recorded on February 6, 1962

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Barney Kessel with Shelly Manne & Ray Brown – The Poll Winners {Fantasy}[xrcd]


Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. (allmusic.com)

If the picture of three grown men hanging onto giant, colored swirl sticks looks a bit odd, or if the title The Poll Winners seems a bit conceited, the music, nonetheless — recorded in 1957 — still sounds great in 2002. Besides, guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Shelly Manne really did win polls in Down Beat, Playboy, and Metronome in 1956, and this is precisely what brought the players together. Here, on their first outing, they interpret nine pieces for 40 lovely minutes of modern jazz. After kicking off with a fine take on Duke Jordan’s “Jordu,” the group delivers an emotionally warm, six-minute version of “Satin Doll,” one the album’s highlights. While each player is always fully engaged in this small setting, Kessel’s guitar supplies the lead voice. His expressive style has more in common with bluesy players like Kenny Burrell than cool ones like Tal Farlow. This quality leads to sensitive interpretations of melody-filled standards like “On Green Dolphin Street” and “It Could Happen to You.” As is traditional in small settings, both Manne and Brown are also given a piece of the action, usually near the end of a tune. The choice of material, the interplay between the three players, and the lead work all meld together beautifully on The Poll Winners

Tracks:
01 – Jordu
02 – Satin Doll
03 – It Could Happen to You
04 – Mean to Me
05 – Don’t Worry ’bout Me
06 – On Green Dolphin Street
07 – You Go to My Head
08 – Minor Mood
09 – Nagasaki

Personnel:
Barney Kessel – guitar
Ray Brown – bass
Shelly Manne – drums

Recorded at Contemporary’s Studio in Los Angeles; March 18-19, 1957.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork