Many, perhaps most, practicising jazz guitarists are familiar with über-transcriber Wolf Marshall. Thus, Wolf has brought Grant Green, Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, George Benson, etc. transcriptions to the jazz guitar community.
A new set of Wolf Marshall transcriptions is a major event, and such an event has recently transpired with Hal Leonard’s release of Barney Kessel: A Step-by-Step Breakdown of His Guitar Styles and Techniques.”
Arguably, the notions of styles (in plural) in the subtitle is a bit exaggerated, for virtually all of the transcriptions are from Kessel’s first three recordings as a leader, Easy Like, Kessel Plays Standards, and To Swing or Not to Swing, whereas the change in Kessel’s playing which began around 1960 with the latest of the Pollwinners albums to an even more bluesy, stomping and loose style isn’t really represented here. In fact, many think that Barney’s first recordings as a leader are also his finest, and Wolf has transcribed classics like “Salute to Charlie Christian” (my personal favorite early Barney number), “Easy Like,” “Indiana,” “Speak Low,” and of course done so with his usual precision and empathy. Great work, Wolf!!