Barney Kessel / Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By

More Barney Kessel

More Jazz Featuring the Guitar

  • Their stuff just doesn’t get any better than this. Tubey Magic, richness, sweetness, dead-on timbres from top to bottom — this is a textbook example of Contemporary sound at its best
  • For those of you who appreciate what Roy DuNann (and Howard Holzer on other sessions) were able to achieve in the ’50s at Contemporary Records, this LP is a Must-Own
  • Unless you already have it, which is doubtful considering how hard it is to find a copy in clean condition
  • Barney Kessel and his five reed players take these standards and make magic with them — for fun, relaxing jazz it’s hard not to love this one

This vintage Black Label Contemporary Stereo LP from has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND. No other copy we played was in a class with this bad boy — it does it ALL.

How can you beat a Roy DuNann recording of five reeds, piano, guitar and a rhythm section that includes Shelly Manne and Red Mitchell? The timbre of the instruments is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you’ve put into your stereo more than pay off.

The Demo Disc sound on this copy is really something to hear – all tube, live-to-two-track direct from the Contemporary studio. It’s pretty much everything you want in a recording from this era. I’d love to keep it but when would I have time to play it? I can assure you I will sleep very well knowing that it’s going to a good home.

What the Best Sides of Music To Listen To Barney Kessel By Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1957
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Wonderful West Coast Jazz

Musically this is one of my favorite jazz records. Delightfully insightful liner notes from Andre Previn by the way.

Did you know that Kessel won every major jazz poll for guitarist in 1956?

What’s interesting about that is that this album allows all the other players plenty of time to share the spotlight. Barney is a member of a team here. The sophisticated arrangements find space for everyone’s contribution to be heard.

At least one track has five woodwind players and you can easily pick them all out. Others have short duets for pairings such as bassoon and oboe.

From an audiophile perspective, this one is hard to beat.

What We’re Listening For on Music To Listen To Barney Kessel By

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Talk About Timbre

Man, when you play a Hot Stamper copy of an amazing recording such as this, the timbre of the instruments is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you’ve put into your stereo more than pay off. To paraphrase The Hollies, you get paid back with interest. If you hear anything funny in the mids and highs of this record, don’t blame the record. (This is the kind of record that shows up audiophile BS equipment for what it is: Audiophile BS. If you are checking for richness, Tubey Magic and freedom from artificiality, I can’t think of a better test disc. It has loads of the first two and none of the last.)

The Players

  1. Barney Kessel – guitar
  2. Buddy Collette – flute, alto flute, clarinet
  3. Junie Cobb – oboe, English horn
  4. George W. Smith – clarinet
  5. Justin Gordon – clarinet, bass clarinet
  6. Howard Terry – clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon
  7. André Previn, Jimmy Rowles, Claude Williamson – piano
  8. Buddy Clark – bass
  9. Shelly Manne – drums


Side One

Cheerful Little Earful 
Makin’ Whoopee
My Reverie
Blues For A Playboy
Love Is For The Very Young

Side Two

Mountain Greenery
Indian Summer
Gone With The Wind
I Love You
Fascinating Rhythm

AMG Review

Featured is Kessel’s guitar with five woodwinds and a rhythm section. 12 songs were recorded with Buddy Collette (fl), Andre Previn (p), Shelly Manne (d), Jimmy Rowles (p), Red Mitchell (b), Buddy Clark (b), and others.

The arrangements range from the chamber music texture of “My Reverie” to the briskly swinging renditions of “Mountain Greenery” and “Fascinatin’ Rhythm.” Kessel plays wonderfully throughout, whether rendering rapid single-note lines or constructing the beautifully chorded introduction to the ballad “Laura.” There are also fine solo contributions by Buddy Collette on flute and the superb pianist Jimmy Rowles.

Stuart Broomer