5 STARS DOWN BEAT MAGAZINE
5 STARS ALL MUSIC GUIDE
This CD presents Barney Kessel’s complete original 1955 album To Swing or Not to Swing (Contemporary C3513). This fantastic LP features Kessel swinging along with Harry “Sweets” Edison, Bill Perkins and Shelly Manne, and also showcases the guitarist on four tracks backed only by the rhythm section. As a bonus, a complete 1957 quintet session that also features Shelly Manne, as well as five further tracks which find Kessel in quintet (with Bob Cooper on tenor sax), quartet and duo formats.
Includes 16-page booklet
BARNEY KESSEL, guitar
HARRY "SWEETS" EDISON, trumpet
GEORGIE AULD, tenor sax (on 2, 6-7 & 11)
BILL PERKINS, tenor sax (on 3, 5 & 9)
JIMMY ROWLES, piano
AL HENDRICKSON, rhythm guitar
RED MITCHELL, bass
IRV COTTLER, drums (on 2, 6-7 & 11)
SHELLY MANNE, drums (on 3, 5 & 9)
(1, 4, 8 & 10) showcase Kessel alone with the rhythm section.
Los Angeles, March 28 & July 26, 1955.
*BONUS TRACKS (12-19):
(12-14) Victor Feldman (vib), Hampton Hawes (p), Barney Kessel (g),
Leroy Vinnegar (b), Shelly Manne (d). Los Angeles, November 11, 1957.
(15-16) & (18-19)
Bob Cooper (ts on 16 & 19 only), Barney Kessel (g),
Claude Williamson (p), Monty Budwig (b), Shelly Manne (d).
Los Angeles, June 4 (tracks 16 & 18) & July 1 (tracks 15 & 19), 1954.
(17) Barney Kessel (g), Red Mitchell (b).
Los Angeles, September 12, 1955.
01 BEGIN THE BLUES 4:29
02 LOUISIANA 3:56
03 HAPPY FEELING 3:57
04 EMBRACEABLE YOU 3:24
05 WAIL STREET 4:25
06 INDIANA 3:13
07 MOTEN SWING 3:58
08 MIDNIGHT SUN 3:10
09 CONTEMPORARY BLUES 4:09
10 DON’T BLAME ME 2:58
11 12th STREET RAG 2:59
12 LET’S COOK 11:21*
13 TIME REMEMBERED 4:21*
14 JUST IN TIME 4:57*
15 LOVE IS HERE TO STAY 3:27*
16 ON A SLOW BOAT TO CHINA 3:15*
17 MY OLD FLAME 3:37*
18 A FOGGY DAY 3:09*
19 64 BARS ON WILSHIRE 3:17*
Total Time: 78:03
Original Down Beat review: To Swing or Not to Swing
“To Swing or Not to Swing is an album that should bring pleasure so long as there are jazz-oriented ears to hear. Rhythmically, this is one of the happiest recordings of recent years and is a particularly graphic aural definition of the verb ‘to swing’. As for melodic and harmonic conception, everyone is in very good form, with the most memorable kicks from Edison and Kessel.” (Nat Hentoff)
All Music Guide: To Swing or Not to Swing
“Guitarist Barney Kessel's string of recordings for Contemporary in the 1950s included some of the finest work of his career. The unusual repertoire on this set –which includes ‘Louisiana’, ‘Indiana’, and ‘12th Street Rag’, along with four Kessel originals and more usual standards– would by itself make this bop/cool set noteworthy. Add to that a very minteresting line-up of players and some excellent showcases for Kessel, and the overall result is an album highly recommended to fans of straight-ahead jazz.” (Scott Yanow)