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Barney Kessel
Barney Kessel

(A true jazz legend, Barney was born in Oklahoma in 1923, and played and recorded with a long list of jazz greats including Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Art Tatum, Ella Fitzgerald, Ben Webster and Sonny Rollins. When Barney was only 16, Charlie Christian had already heard of him and while home in Oklahoma, Christian came to see and ultimately play with Kessel. In modern jazz, Kessel is clearly one of Christian's most important musical descendants. In the 1940s, Barney recorded with big bands (e.g. Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman), and in 1952, was one of the original members of the Oscar Peterson Trio.

For nearly four decades, he was perhaps the most popular jazz guitarist in LA., and he worked as an arranger and musician in radio, TV, films and performed with such artists as Barbra Streisand, Liberace, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. Before suffering a stroke in 1992, he made jazz recordings too numerous to mention, toured the world, wrote a book [The Guitar] and made three instructional home videos. Among Barney's proudest accomplishments, he cites the way he used the guitar to sound like a full jazz orchestra, of which his landmark 1955 recording with Julie London, Julie Is Her Name (which includes their memorable rendition of "Cry Me A River") is a good example. He also is regarded as the first in jazz to use flute and oboe on his recordings as a solo instrument. An extraordinarily versatile player, he was a jazz virtuoso who was a favorite on numerous Spector sessions. He also played on a handful of Beach Boys dates including nearly half of the Pet Sounds tracks.)


(Thanks to the assistance of his wife Phyllis, Barney provided these recollections of those days.)

Barney: "I remember that Glen Campbell was also on some of the sessions, and sometimes, Glen and I were in the engineering booth playing and the band was in the studio, on the other side of the glass. The guitars I used were a Guild 12 string acoustic, a 1933 L-5 acoustic and a Fender electric. On those dates, I played a little of everything. The way I remember it, Brian used to come in and give us the chords. It was all just fine. Brian was very commercially successful at the time, and he was wonderful to work with."

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