Barney Kessel – Vol. 3: To Swing Or Not To Swing


A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Early Contemporary Yellow Label Mono LP sure has AMAZING SOUND!

Man, this music is a blast when it sounds this good. I don’t think there’s a whole lot you could do to make this music sound any better! It’s one of the best early mono Contemporary LP I’ve ever played. It’s so tubey magical and Kessel’s guitar sound is out of this world. 

The music here matches the sound for excellence. The whole band just swings. There’s a real old rag-timey feel to the songs. Look at this list of all-star players: Harry Edison, Jimmy Rowles, Red Mitchell and Shelly Manne — this is some serious jazz talent.

The Players and Personnel

Bass – Red Mitchell 
Drums – Irv Cottler, Shelly Manne
Engineer – John Palladino 
Guitar – Barney Kessel 
Photography By – William Claxton 
Piano – Jimmy Rowles 
Recording Supervisor – Lester Koenig 
Rhythm Guitar – Al Hendrickson 
Tenor Saxophone – Bill Perkins, Georgie Auld
Trumpet – Harry Edison

Mono / Stereo

Here are some records that we think sound great in MONO.


Side One

Begin The Blues 
Happy Feeling 
Wail Street

Side Two

Moten Swing 
Midnight Sun 
Comtemporary Blues
Don’t Blame Me 
12th Street Rag

AMG Review

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 an [LP] highly recommended to fans of straight-ahead jazz.