Barney Kessel

CLICK HERE to view the Highlights page in its entirety.

Memories of Barney Kessel
The World's Greatest Jazz Guitarist

My Memories of Barney Kessel
Jerry Pippin, 6/12/04

Approximately, in the year of 1982, Barney Kessel visited his hometown of Muskogee, Oklahoma. In 1981, I saw Barney Kessel, Charlie Byrd, and Herb Ellis...three unbelievably talented jazz guitarists...together in concert, in Oklahoma City. It was a magical evening for many reasons. Not only were these three talents almost God-like to a Jazz fan, but Kessel walked the streets and went to the same dives that I had while growing up in Muskogee.

Shortly after that concert, Kessel left the West coast and moved to Edmond, Oklahoma. He had some sort of arrangement with what was then Central State University, which was part of the Oklahoma University System. He evidently taught at the college, and appeared every Sunday morning on the Central State University radio station and played Jazz.

Barney Kessel was born October 17, 1923 and died May 7, 2004. He was 80 years old.

Join me in listening to a rare recording of Kessel, made during one of his visits to Muskogee in 1982. It was recorded in a local restaurant. In the recording, Kessel explains and demonstrates to friends and fellow musicians, not only the techniques, but the concepts of his music.

Cut 1 - Brazil (ASCAP), Cut 2 - Laura (ASCAP), Cut 3 - Misty (ASCAP), Cut 4 - Old Devil Moon (ASCAP), Cut 5 - Yesterday (BMI).

 Interviews about Barney Kessel and his Music


In a near six-decade career, Barney Kessel was rated the #1 guitarist in Esquire, Downbeat, and Playboy magazine polls between 1947 and 1960. Jerry talks in studio with Bill Carter about Barney Kessel. This was recorded off the air in the Spring of 2001 at KBIX.

Bill Carter (left) was a frequent guest on my KBIX Radio Show. Carter graduated from Central High School a year after me, and immediately went on the road playing drums for several groups. He is still active in the music scene.




Barney Kessel, a pioneer of the electric guitar and a master of harmonic improvisations, also recorded over fifty albums, including a number of innovative albums with drummer Shelly Manne and bassist Ray Brown that were remarkable for the lack of a pianist. He also performed with the Oscar Peterson Trio and ensembles with Charlie Parker, Charlie Barnet, Art Tatum and Artie Shaw, and with performers Elvis Presley, Liberace and the Beach Boys. Leaving the jazz world for studio work, between 1967 and 1970 he operated Barney Kessel's Music World in Hollywood, but in 1972 he returned to fulltime stage work. A stroke in 1992 curtailed his career.


Songs: Tennessee Ernie Ford and Kay Starr - I'll Never Be Free ( Capital records- BMI)
and Gramarcy Five featuring Barney Kessel on guitar - Scuttlebut -( RCA - ASCAP)



Jerry and Bill Carter talk about the rare recording presented in its entirety on this web site (above). If you are a jazz fan or a musician, you need to take time and give this collector's item tape a listen. This particular segment was an air check ( recorded off the air and the music is edited out automatically at the radio station, so unfortunately, some great Kessel music is missing. However, we have links for you to order Kessel, CDs, DVDs, etc. You will find them at the bottom of this page dedicated to Barney Kessel. Our Thanks to BIll Carter for special material and coming by KBIX to tell us about this SUPER PICKER from Muskogee.

Barney Kessel Links

bullet A tribute to Barney Kessel -- Reviewed by Cindy Benedetto
bullet Dave Gould's Barney Kessel pages
bullet Sound Clips from CD Now
bullet Photo Album of Barney Kessel
bullet The Jazz Professional Site

Comments from Listeners

(July 27, 2009) - My name is Jim Reilly.  Iím a journalist and writer living in Canada.  Iím currently working on a biography of an American musician and instrument builder named Emmett Chapman.  For a brief time in 1970, Chapman played in a group with Barney Kessel named Cornucopia.

Cornucopia was short-lived, only played around LA and doesnít seem to be a big part of Mr. Kesselís legacy, but it was a turning point for Chapman.  Playing with Kessel marked the first acceptance by a major professional musician of Emmettís music and unique playing style.

If someone knows about this group, contact us at and we will forward the information to Jim in Canada.

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