The Info List - Barney Kessel

Barney Kessel
Barney Kessel
(October 17, 1923 – May 6, 2004) was an American jazz guitarist born in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Noted in particular for his knowledge of chords and inversions and chord-based melodies, he was a member of many prominent jazz groups as well as a "first call" guitarist for studio, film, and television recording sessions. Kessel was a member of the group of session musicians informally known as the Wrecking Crew.


1 Biography 2 Death 3 Personal life 4 Discography

4.1 As leader 4.2 As sideman

5 Bibliography 6 References 7 External links

Biography[edit] Kessel began his career as a teenager touring with local dance bands. When he was 16, he started playing with the Oklahoma A & M band, "Hal Price & the Varsitonians". The band members lovingly nicknamed him "Fruitcake" because he used to practice up to 16 hours a day. He then moved on to bands such as that led by Chico Marx. He quickly established himself as a key post- Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian
jazz guitarist. In 1944 he participated in the film Jammin' the Blues, which featured Lester Young, and in 1947 he recorded with Charlie Parker's New Stars on the Relaxin' at Camarillo session for Dial Records.[1] He was rated the No. 1 guitarist in Esquire, Down Beat, and Playboy
magazine polls between 1947 and 1960.[2] Kessel was known for his innovative work in the guitar trio setting. In the 1950s, he made a series of four albums called The Poll Winners with Ray Brown on bass and Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
on drums. He was also the guitarist on the album Julie Is Her Name (1955) by Julie London, which includes the standard "Cry Me a River"; this million-selling song features a guitar part from Kessel which illustrates his melodic chordal approach in a minimal jazz group.[3] Also from the 1950s, his three Kessel Plays Standards
Kessel Plays Standards
volumes contain some of his most polished work.[citation needed] Kessel was also a member of the Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
Trio with Ray Brown for a year, leaving in 1953. The guitar chair was called the hardest gig in show business since Peterson often liked to play at breakneck tempos.[citation needed] Herb Ellis
Herb Ellis
took over from Kessel. Kessel also played with Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
in the late 1950s and can be heard on the Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
and the Contemporary Leaders album on songs like "How High the Moon".[citation needed] Barney Kessel
Barney Kessel
was the winner of the prestigious Down Beat
Down Beat
magazine readers poll in 1956, 1957 and 1958 and played the Kay Jazz
Special K8700 exclusively during that era. In 1960, Barney left Kay but the production of these guitars continued without his signature. Kessel was a "first call" guitarist at Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures
during the 1960s, and became one of the most in-demand session guitarists in America, and is considered a key member of the group of first-call session musicians now usually known as The Wrecking Crew. At one point after a two and a half hour session to record a one-chord song, "The Beat Goes On", Kessel is reported to have stood up and proclaimed, "Never have so many played so little for so much."[4]

Kessel playing a guitar.

He played Mr. Spock's theme on bass, which first appeared in the Star Trek episode "Amok Time". During the 1970s, Kessel presented his seminar "The Effective Guitarist" in various locations around the world, and performed extensively with Herb Ellis
Herb Ellis
and Charlie Byrd
Charlie Byrd
as "The Great Guitars". On Pete Townshend's 1983 album Scoop, Townshend paid homage to the guitarist with the instrumental song "To Barney Kessel".[citation needed] Death[edit] Kessel, who had been in poor health after suffering a stroke in 1992, died of a brain tumor at his home in San Diego, California, on May 6, 2004, at the age of 80.[5] Personal life[edit] Kessel was married to B. J. Baker. They were divorced in 1980. Kessel's sons Dan and David also became record producers and session musicians, working with Phil Spector, John Lennon, Cher and Leonard Cohen.[6] Discography[edit] As leader[edit]

Swing Guitars (Verve, 1953) Easy Like
Easy Like
(Contemporary 1953 [1955]) Barney Kessel, Vol. 1 (Contemporary, 1953) Barney Kessel, Vol. 2 (Contemporary, 1954) To Swing or Not to Swing
To Swing or Not to Swing
(Contemporary, 1955) Kessel Plays Standards
Kessel Plays Standards
(Contemporary, 1955 [1955]) re-release of Barney Kessel
Barney Kessel
Volume 2 Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By
Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By
(Contemporary, 1956) Let's Cook!
Let's Cook!
(Contemporary, 1957) The Poll Winners
The Poll Winners
(Contemporary, 1957) with Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
and Ray Brown The Poll Winners
The Poll Winners
Ride Again! (Contemporary, 1959) with Shelly Manne and Ray Brown Poll Winners Three!
Poll Winners Three!
(Contemporary, 1959) with Shelly Manne
Shelly Manne
and Ray Brown Carmen (Contemporary, 1959) Some Like It Hot (Contemporary, 1959) Barney Kessel's Swingin' Party
Barney Kessel's Swingin' Party
(Contemporary, 1960) Workin' Out! with the Barney Kessel Quartet
Workin' Out! with the Barney Kessel Quartet
(Contemporary, 1961) Breakfast at Tiffany's (Reprise, 1961) Bossa Nova (Reprise, 1962) Contemporary Latin Rhythms (Reprise, 1963) On Fire (Emerald, 1965) Guitar
Workshop (Saba, 1967) Hair Is Beautiful! (Atlantic, 1968) Blue Soul (Black Lion, 1968) Aquarius: The Music from Hair (Black Lion, 1968) Feeling Free
Feeling Free
(Contemporary, 1969) Reflections in Rome (RCA, 1969) Limehouse Blues (Freedom, 1969) I Remember Django (Black Lion, 1969) Guitarra (RCA Camden, 1970) Yesterday (Black Lion, 1973) Just Friends (Sonet, 1973) Two Way Conversation (Emarcy/Universal, 1973) Great Guitars (Concord Jazz, 1974) Three Guitars (Concord Jazz, 1974) Barney Plays Kessel (Concord Jazz, 1975) Straight Ahead (Contemporary, 1975) with Shelly Manne, Ray Brown Soaring (Concord Jazz, 1976) Poor Butterfly (Concord Jazz, 1976 Live at Sometime 1977 Tea for Two 1977 Solo (Concord Jazz, 1981) Jellybeans (Concord Jazz, 1981 Spontaneous Combustion (Contemporary, 1987) Red Hot and Blues (Contemporary, 1988) Plays "Carmen" (1990) Barney Kessel
Barney Kessel
and Friends (Concord Jazz, 1990) Great Guitars 2 (Concord Jazz, 1995) It's a Blue World ( Jazz
Hour 1996) Salute to Charlie Christian
Charlie Christian
(Membran, 2004) Live in Los Angeles at PJ's Club (Gambit, 2006) Military Swing (2006) Live at the Jazz
Mill 1954, Vol. 2 (Modern Harmonic, 2018)

As sideman[edit] With Benny Carter

Alone Together (Norgran, 1952 [1955]) Cosmopolite (Norgran, 1952 [1956]) Jazz
Giant (Contemporary, 1958)

With Buddy DeFranco

Generalissimo (Verve, 1959) Live Date (Verve, 1959) Bravura (Verve, 1959) Wailers (Verve, 1960)

With Harry Edison

Sweets (Clef, 1956) Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You (Verve, 1957)

With Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Sings (Clef, 1952) Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
(Clef, 1953) Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
(Clef, 1954) Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
at JATP (Clef, 1954) Music for Torching (Clef, 1956) Velvet Mood
Velvet Mood
(Clef, 1956) Lady Sings the Blues (Clef, 1956) Body and Soul (Verve, 1957) Songs for Distingué Lovers
Songs for Distingué Lovers
(Verve, 1957) All or Nothing at All (Verve, 1958)

With Anita O'Day

This Is Anita (Verve, 1956) Pick Yourself Up with Anita O'Day
Anita O'Day
(Verve, 1957) Anita Sings the Winners
Anita Sings the Winners
(Verve, 1958) Anita O'Day
Anita O'Day
Swings Cole Porter with Billy May (Verve, 1959) Trav'lin' Light (Verve, 1961)

With Shorty Rogers

Martians Come Back!
Martians Come Back!
(Atlantic, 1955 [1956]) Way Up There
Way Up There
(Atlantic, 1955 [1957]) Chances Are It Swings
Chances Are It Swings
(RCA Victor, 1958) The Wizard of Oz and Other Harold Arlen Songs
The Wizard of Oz and Other Harold Arlen Songs
(RCA Victor, 1959)

With Pete Rugolo

Out on a Limb (EmArcy, 1956) An Adventure in Sound: Reeds in Hi-Fi (Mercury, 1956 [1958]) An Adventure in Sound: Brass in Hi-Fi (Mercury 1956 [1958])

With others

First Quartet, Oscar Peterson
Oscar Peterson
(Verve, 1951) The Drum Battle
The Drum Battle
(Verve, 1952 [1960]), Gene Krupa
Gene Krupa
and Buddy Rich Skin Deep, Louis Bellson
Louis Bellson
(Norgran, 1953) Dale's Wail, Roy Eldridge
Roy Eldridge
(Clef, 1953) In the Land of Hi-Fi with Georgie Auld
Georgie Auld
and His Orchestra, Georgie Auld (EmArcy, 1955) Man of Many Parts, Buddy Collette
Buddy Collette
(Contemporary, 1956) Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
Sings the Cole Porter Songbook, Ella Fitzgerald (Verve, 1956) Jazz
Concert West Coast (1948), Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
(Savoy, 1956) Ballads & Blues, Milt Jackson
Milt Jackson
(Atlantic, 1956) Songs for Hip Lovers, Woody Herman
Woody Herman
(Verve, 1957) Four!, Hampton Hawes (Contemporary, 1958) Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
and the Contemporary Leaders, Sonny Rollins (Contemporary, 1958) Night Beat, Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke
(RCA Victor, 1963) Soulful Brass, Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson
(Impulse!, 1968) Albert's House, Chet Baker
Chet Baker
(Beverly Hills, 1969) Art 'n' Zoot, Art Pepper
Art Pepper
and Zoot Sims
Zoot Sims
(Pablo, 1981 [1995])


Kessel, Barney; Laurindo Almeida, Howard Heitmeyer, Al Hendrickson, Bill Pitman, Bob Bain, Jack Marshall, Howard Roberts (1961). West Coast Guitar: Eight Original Solos for Guitar. New York: Leeds Music Corporation. ASIN B0080YPG16. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) Marshall, Wolf; Kessel, Barney (2009). Barney Kessel: A Step-by-Step Breakdown of His Guitar
Styles and Techniques. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 978-1423430476.  Summerfield, Maurice J.; Kessel, Barney (2008). Barney Kessel: A Jazz Legend. Ashley Mark Publishing. ISBN 978-1872639697.  Kessel, Barney (1992). The Jazz
Artistry of Barney Kessel: Guitar
Solo. Ashley Mark Publishing. ISBN 978-0793516438.  Kessel, Barney (1997). The Jazz
Artistry of Barney Kessel, Vol. 2. Ashley Mark Publishing. ISBN 978-0793587056.  Kessel, Barney (2000). The Jazz
Artistry of Barney Kessel, Vol. 3. Ashley Mark Publishing. ISBN 978-0634023231. 


^ The Complete Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
on Dial at AllMusic ^ "Barney Kessel". June 12, 2004. Retrieved July 16, 2008.  ^ The Guinness Who's Who of Fifties Music. General Editor: Colin Larkin. First published 1993 (UK); ISBN 0-85112-732-0. Julie London, p. 210. ^ Hartman, Kent, The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press, New York, 2012 p. 163. ^ Keepnews, Peter (May 8, 2004). "Barney Kessel, 80, a Guitarist With Legends of Jazz, Dies". The New York Times.  ^ Brown, Mick (2008). Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector. Vintage Books. ISBN 978-1400076611. 

External links[edit]

Biography portal

Barney Kessel
Barney Kessel
at AllMusic " Barney Kessel
Barney Kessel
Scene USA (1962)" on YouTube "Barney Kessel". Archived from the original on December 10, 2007. Retrieved October 17, 2006. CS1 maint: Unfit url (link) "Barney Kessel". Find a Grave. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 

v t e

Barney Kessel

Studio albums

Easy Like Kessel Plays Standards To Swing or Not to Swing Music to Listen to Barney Kessel
Barney Kessel
By The Poll Winners Let's Cook! The Poll Winners
The Poll Winners
Ride Again! Carmen Some Like It Hot Poll Winners Three! Barney Kessel's Swingin' Party Exploring the Scene! Workin' Out! with the Barney Kessel
Barney Kessel
Quartet Feeling Free

With Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Sings Billie Holiday Billie Holiday Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
at JATP Music for Torching Velvet Mood Lady Sings the Blues Body and Soul Songs for Distingué Lovers All or Nothing at All

v t e

The Wrecking Crew


James Burton Glen Campbell Al Casey Jerry Cole Mike Deasy René Hall Barney Kessel Bill Pitman Howard Roberts Louis Shelton P. F. Sloan Billy Strange Tommy Tedesco

Electric bass

Max Bennett Carol Kaye Larry Knechtel Joe Osborn Bill Pitman Ray Pohlman

Upright bass

Chuck Berghofer Jimmy Bond Lyle Ritz Red Callender


Frank Capp Victor Feldman Milt Holland Joe Porcaro Julius Wechter


Hal Blaine Jim Gordon Jim Keltner Earl Palmer


Al De Lory Larry Knechtel Mike Melvoin Don Randi Dr. John Mike (Michel) Rubini Leon Russell


Gene Cipriano Steve Douglas Jim Horn Plas Johnson Jay Migliori Nino Tempo


Richard "Slyde" Hyde Dick Nash


Bud Brisbois Roy Caton Chuck Findley Ollie Mitchell Tony Terran

Related articles

Gold Star Studios Jack Nitzsche Phil Spector Sunset Sound Recorders United Western Recorders Brian Wilson The Wrecking Crew (documentary)


Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 51875741 LCCN: n82025135 ISNI: 0000 0000 8130 6976 GND: 129284351 SELIBR: 276717 SUDOC: 156899728 BNF: cb138959564 (data) BIBSYS: 1006639 MusicBrainz: cf347470-d1d1-48b4-bda1-8171418ef5a7 BNE: XX856110 SN