A benefit concert for jazz guitarist Barney Kessel, who has been diagnosed
with terminal brain cancer, has been scheduled for June 1, at Birdland, located at 315 West 44th Street in New York City. Artists to perform
include George Benson, Jim Hall, Larry Coryell, John Scofield, George
Coleman, Ray Bryant, Harold Mabern, Chico Hamilton, John & Bucky Pizzarelli, Jimmy Cobb, Howard Alden, Mark Whitfield, AJ Lambert, Carl
Barry, Jack Wilkins, Eric Alexander, Gene Bertoncini, Ray Barretto,
Candido, Jackie Paris, Rodney Jones, Frank Wess, Benny Powell, Peter
Bernstein, Russell Malone, Vic Juris, Jimmy Bruno, Randy Johnston, Peter
Washington, Harvie S, Sean Smith, Steve La Spina, Chuck Redd, Gray
Sargeant, Lee Musiker, Kyle Eastwood, Ron Affif, Sabina Sciubba and Vinny
Valentino, with other special guests to be added. Tickets are $25 at the door; all proceeds from the show will go to assist Kessel.
"Barney Kessel stands tall as one of the dominant pillars of this music we
call jazz," says benefit organizer and producer Charles Carlini, a noted
guitar aficionado who has produced many tributes to legendary guitarists.
"His contributions are inestimable."
Known for his brilliant harmonic improvisation, bluesy and hard-driving
earthy style, Kessel is one of the swingingest players in jazz. A master
at pulling every last bit of emotion from a beautiful ballad, and at the
other extreme setting an audience on fire with an up tempo jazz standard,
he has also delighted audiences with his natural talent for standup comedy.
A composer and arranger (the jazz classic "Swedish Pastry" is perhaps his
best known tune), he was also a popular teacher who gave seminars and
workshops all over the world. Kessel originated the idea of the guitar
being used instead of a piano as the predominate voice of a jazz trio with
bass and drums. His five Poll Winners albums with Shelly Manne on drums and
Ray Brown on bass set the standard for all the guitar records that followed. Kessel was also the first to use the guitar to sound like a
full jazz orchestra. His landmark 1955 recording with Julie London, Julie
is Her Name, and its memorable "Cry Me a River," is an early example of his
ability to make arrangements, which bring out full orchestral tonal colors
with only a string bass and electric guitar. He was also the first in
modern jazz to use the flute and oboe on his recordings.
Kessel has played
and recorded with a long list of jazz greats including Lester Young,
Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughn,
Ella Fitzgerald, Ben Webster and Sonny Rollins.
He is the author of the
book, "The Guitar," and has made three videos explaining his process of
improvisation in detail for Rumark Video.
At age 78, Kessel was diagnosed late last year with an inoperable tumor
(anaplastic astrocytoma) requiring 24-hour home care and therapy. He is
partially blind but is still able to talk on the telephone. Sadly,
he has no life insurance and has not worked in over 10 years due to a
massive stroke he suffered in 1992 care.
For those wishing to contribute to Barney's health care fund, checks can be
Mrs. Phyllis Kessel,
4445 North Avenue,
San Diego, CA 92116-3940