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  • Kessel Barney - Live At The Jazz Mill 1954, Vol 2 (LP)


    This is another album of relaxed, swingin’ jazz from Kessel and the Jazz Millers–Pete Jolly-piano, Art Kile-drums, and Gene Stoffel-bass. Like the first volume, these tapes come from a young audiophile who brought his tape machine into the club to record various performers playing there. The sound is warm and actually pretty clean sounding, with a feel of the ’50s. Both volumes are issued on the Modern Harmonic label which is part of the Sundazed label. The disc slips into a pocket in the wallet style cardboard package. There’s a nice two page essay on the inside panels and a track list, photo of the group, and recording info on the back cover.

    This is a good chance for Kessel and/or jazz guitar fans in general to hear a true master of jazz guitar, playing with a small sympathetic group. The ’50s is when Kessel was either near or at the top of jazz polls, and these live tapes will show why that was. Jolly’s piano is also a great feature here. His playing accents Kessel’s lyrical style–listen to ”Tea For Two” as just one example of how well they play together.

    Like the first volume, this album is filled with standards like ”Indian Summer”, ”Blue Moon” (with a nice bass solo), ”I Can’t Get Started” (a beautiful version), ”Godchild” (Kessel’s playing is especially lyrical), and a couple of other tunes. The small club ambience helps define this music–a good example of jazz in a small club that didn’t last a year before closing it’s doors. That fact makes these tapes not only rare, but historic as well. And Kessel’s and the group’s relaxed familiarity with these tunes makes for a good listening experience.

    Kessel fans should check out both volumes. Both are full of Kessel in his prime, backed by a fine pianist and a rhythm section that is never intrusive yet pushed the music along nicely. For swinging, fluid, ’50s jazz guitar, both volumes deserve attention from fans. Both are good examples of what small gigs were like during this era. Can you imagine what it would be like to walk into a small club like the Jazz Mill and hear Kessel during his best years? Both volumes can sit next to other Kessel albums from this prime era.

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