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Blues for a Playboy

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Album Review

The promotional blurb on the back of this CD claims that Barney Kessel was equally influential in jazz and rock circles. While definitely one of the top jazz guitarists and a well-liked studio session player, it's a big stretch to say he was an idol of rockers, even though he was a sideman on some influential pop/rock LPs in the '60s. This compilation features 16 jazz standards, mostly played in ballad form, which was not generally his forté. The bop sounds he did employ make way for the cool sound that was also prevalent on the West Coast. His renderings of "Tenderly," "Prelude to a Kiss," "Midnight Sun," "Indian Summer," "Laura," and "'Round Midnight" are indeed precious, but aren't a full representation of what he was all about. There are four supplemental cuts to finish the CD off, featuring appearances by Billie Holiday, Art Tatum, Lester Young, and Anita O'Day that are good, but incongruous with the rest of the collection. Far from essential Kessel, this CD is at best a curious production. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: 17 October 1923 in Muskogee, OK

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the finest guitarists to emerge after the death of Charlie Christian, Barney Kessel was a reliable bop soloist throughout his career. He played with a big band fronted by Chico Marx (1943), was fortunate enough to appear in the classic jazz short Jammin' the Blues (1944), and then worked with the big bands of Charlie Barnet (1944-1945) and Artie Shaw (1945); he also recorded with Shaw's Gramercy Five. Kessel became a busy studio musician in Los Angeles, but was always in demand for jazz records....
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Blues for a Playboy, Barney Kessel
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