Barney Kessel: A Jazz Legend

December 9, 2008

Nicolai Foss

Maurice Summerfield first came to my attention when as a 16 year old (in 1980) kid, I was getting into Django Reinhardt and, a little later, Tal Farlow. Eager to learn more about the players, I picked up an intriguing volume with the title The Jazz Guitar in my local library. The book consisted mainly of brief bios of the ca. 100 most prolific and famous jazz guitarists as well as pics of beautiful guitars. The preface to that book was penned by Barney Kessel, and it was this preface (and Summerfield’s bio on Barney) that made me seek out Barney’s recordings.

I received my copy of Summerfield’s new Barney Kessel: A Jazz Legend (published Nov. 1 this year) a couple of weeks and read it very quickly. In fact, the book is a quick read because most of its appr. 300 pages are spent on Barney’s discography. There are lots (and I mean lots) of Barney pics, most of which I haven’t seen. Most of the biographical material in the book is reasonably well known (some of it consists of reprints of articles), but together here for the first time, and there were lots of details that were unknown to me, e.g., on Barney’s family, his strong religious beliefs, etc. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is the long chapter on Barney’s “Guitars and Equipment”. At 26 USD this book is (for a guitar book) very reasonably priced and is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in jazz guitar.

One Response to “Barney Kessel: A Jazz Legend”

  1. Hi Nicolai and thanks for bringing this book to our attention. I’m a fan of biographies and definitely a fan of Barney’s so it should be an interesting and enjoyable read. Thanks again and I hope all is well. Take care and all the best.

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