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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby




Blue Classics

BARNEY KESSEL

PORTRAIT

BLUE Classic line saban crescendo 7267

 

 

  1. Bernardo
  2. Vicky’ Dream
  3. Just Squeeze Me
  4. What is There to Say?
  5. Salute to Charlie Christian
  6. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
  7. Lullaby of Birdland
  8. Seven Come Eleven
  9. Night and day
  10. Long Ago and Far Away
  11. Somebody Loves me
  12. Strike Up the Band
  13. ‘S wonderful
  14. I Got Rhythm
  15. Love Walked In
  16. Tenderly

Tracks 1 to 7 & 16
Barney Kessel- Guitar
Bud Shank – Alto Sax & Flute
Arnold Ross – Piano
Harry Babbasin – Bass
Shelly Manne – Drums

Remaining Tracks
Kessel – Guitar
Oscar Petersen – Piano
Ray Brown – Bass

The tracks with Oscar Petersen were recorded in 1952 and those with Bud Shank in 1953.

This portrait series is a very mixed bag, some of the records are mis-named, some of the personnel information obviously in error, but it does offer some very good value for money jazz and has brought back to the market music which may have disappeared without trace. This release is excellent however; Barney Kessel is for me the best guitar player the jazz world has ever produced. I heard him with a trio in Paris in the 1960’s and was absolutely stunned by the quality of his performance. Technical excellence, long flowing lines and the ability to sound comfortable at any tempo and at any tune are rare commodities. On the first session he is paired with Bud Shank, another superbly talented musician, he plays both alto sax and flute with equal brilliance throughout. As if that isn’t enough there is also the great talents of Arnold Ross on piano and Shelly Manne on drums.

On track 8, the series has another of its lapses; there is a drummer and a soprano player who are not listed. In fact track 8 is not acknowledged on the sleeve at all, it is a mystery track! Track 9 is in fact Seven Come Eleven and all the following track numbers are one adrift from what is given on the sleeve. This does not spoil the musical enjoyment however, of the tracks with what was obviously the Oscar Petersen Trio, which Barney Kessel was a part of at that time. Oscar is the finest pianist jazz pianist around and his performances on these tracks ably demonstrate the fact. Another jazz master, Ray Brown on the double bass completes the trio. It is said Oscar had the idea for the trio from Nat Cole, whom he greatly admired, but wherever the idea came from it was a total success. It is strange that you don’t miss the drums, I have heard this formula tried by lesser musicians where the drums are sorely missed, because there is a lack of drive throughout. It doesn’t happen here, this trio swings throughout.

Despite the usual quirks of the series, I recommend it to all fans of immaculately played, highly swinging jazz played by some of the best musicians the jazz world has ever produced, playing on top of their form and you do get 17 tracks and not sixteen for your money!

Don Mather

 



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