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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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The First Four Albums

Avid AMSC 921




Tracks 1-12: "Easy Like"

1. Easy Like
2. Tenderly
3. Lullaby Of Birdland
4 What Is There To Say?
5. Bernardo
6. Vickyís Dream
7. Salute To Charlie Christian
8. Thatís All
9. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
10. Just Squeeze Me
11. April In Paris
12. North Of The Border
Tracks 13-24: "Barney Kessel Plays Standards"

13. Speak Low
14. Love Is Here To Stay
15. On A Slow Boat To China
16. How Long Has This Been Going On?
17. My Old Flame
18. Jeepers Creepers
19. Barneyís Blues
20. Prelude To A Kiss
21 A Foggy Day
22. You Stepped Out Of A Dream
23. I Didnít Know What Time It Was
24. 64 Bars On Wilshire

Tracks 1-10: "To Swing Or Not To Swing"

1. Begin The Blues
2. Louisiana
3. Happy Feeling
4. Embraceable You
5. Wail Street
6. Indiana
7. Moten Swing
8. Midnight Sun
9. Contemporary Blues
10. Donít Blame Me
Tracks 11-22: "Music To Listen To Barney Kessel By"

11. Cheerful Little Earful
12. Makiní Whoopee
13. My Reverie
14. Blues For A Playboy
15. Love Is For The Very Young
16. Carioca
17. Mountain Greenery
18. Indian Summer
19. Gone With The Wind
20. Laura
21. I Love You
22. Fascinating Rhythm

The Avid label continues to bring us remarkable gifts in the shape of double CDs packed with good things. This set consists of the first four albums recorded by guitarist Barney Kessel as leader between 1953 and 1956, under the aegis of Lester Koenig (although Twelfth Street Rag is omitted from the third album). Barney had already recorded a couple of albums under his own name for the Atomic and Clef labels but Lester gave him the chance to record regularly. All four albums were recorded in Los Angeles, where Kessel had established himself among the West Coast crowd that included the likes of Bud Shank. Bob Cooper, Claude Williamson and Shelly Manne.

Inspired mainly by Charlie Christian, Barney had mastered the bebop style, which is clearly audible on a track like Bernardo, where the theme (based on All the Things You Are) is stated in unison by Kessel's guitar and Bud Shank's alto sax. Kessel had already played with Charlie Parker and served his memorable year's membership of the Oscar Peterson Trio, as well as working with big bands and doing studio work - and he plays nice clean single-note lines as well as blending in well with the other musicians. It is good to hear him with such players as trumpeter Harry Edison and tenorist Bill Perkins on a track like Wall Street.

On Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By, he leads a nine-piece band with a front line consisting entirely of woodwind, which makes for an intriguing sound. At its extremely reasonable budget price, there's no reason why any jazz fan should miss snapping up this memorable set.

Tony Augarde






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