Barney Kessel

Barney KesselJewish guitarist Barney Kessel (b.1923) recorded over thirty albums as leader during the course of his lengthy career.  He was also a prolific session musician and sideman, playing with countless jazz greats including Billie Holiday, Oscar Peterson (as a member of his trio), Benny Carter, Lester Young, and Stéphane Grappelli.  Kessel’s debut album entitled Easy Like was released on Contemporary in 1955.  Most of the material had been recorded at a session two years earlier, including the tune That’s All which has since become a standard.  That’s All was written by Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes in 1952, making Kessel’s version one of the first recorded interpretations. His performance features West Coast multi-wind player Buddy Collette on flute.  After the melody has been stated Kessel plays a sixteen bar solo over the first half of the form.  I’ve included a transcription below.

Barney Kessel's 1953 solo over the 'A' section of That's All

Barney Kessel’s 1953 solo over the ‘A’ section of That’s All

Kessel frequently refers back to the piece’s melody, adding tasteful embellishments.  His solo is highly melodic throughout and consists of diatonic lines enhanced with occasional chromatic passing-notes.  The chromatic phase at the end of bar 2 is highly effective, as is the line he plays over the G7 in bar 8 which makes for a very elegant transition to the second half of his solo.

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One thought on “Barney Kessel

  1. Pingback: Transcriptions | Alexander Corlett

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