Friday, December 06, 2013

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Barney Kessel

Artist:Barney Kessel
Song:St. Thomas
Album:The Concord Jazz Heritage Series

Fans of jazz guitar will be familiar with Barney Kessel. He started out as a sideman in the 40s and first recorded as a leader in the 50s. This CD represents recordings from the 70s and 80s with Concord Jazz. He was highly respected by fans and musicians. He was born Oct. 17, 1923 in Muskogee, OK. Kessel started out as a teen touring with local dance bands. His first major gig was in Chico Marx's band. Kessel moved to Los Angeles and was in the 1944 film Jammin' The Blues featuring Lester Young. He played with Charlie Parker in 1947. In 1952, he was the guitarist in Oscar Peterson's trio. Kessel left in 1953 and signed with Contemporary Records. Many of Kessel's 50s recordings were in a trio most frequently with Ray Brown on bass and Shelly Manne on drums. He also recorded and toured with singer Anita O'Day and recorded with Sonny Rollins. Kessel left Contemporary in 1961 and didn't record again as a leader until the late 60s. For most of the 60s, Kessel was a member of the famed Los Angeles studio musician group The Wrecking Crew. So he played on all kinds of recordings and in films. He also played a jazz guitarist in an episode of the Perry Mason TV series. Kessel signed with Concord Jazz in the mid-70s and recorded and toured as part of The Great Guitars with Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd. This version of the Sonny Rollins classic St. Thomas is from his 1981 album Jellybeans with Bob Maize on bass and Jimmie Smith on drums. These two also played with Herb Ellis. This comp is a good intro to Kessel's Concord recordings. Barney Kessel retired from music in 1988 and moved to San Diego. he suffered a stroke in 1992 and was in ill health until his death on May 6, 2004 at age 80. Here's Barney Kessel performing St. Thomas in the 80s.

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