Guitarist Barney Kessel was the backbone of what I consider to be the most romantic album ever made, Julie London's Julie Is Her Name. It was only a natural choice for Fantasy to add Kessel's name to its list of Plays For Lovers compilations.
Barney Kessel Plays For Lovers is 67 minutes of generally gorgeous music recorded for Contemporary Records over the period from 1953 to 1988. The album consists of 16 standards, two of which are up-tempo: "Satin Doll" and "Just in Time." The rest are soft ballads.
Bobby Hutcherson contributes his vibes to "I'm Glad There is You" and "This Guy's in Love with You." Marvin Jenkins plays flute on "My Funny Valentine." Ted Nash plays flute on "My Reverie." Most of the other tracks feature Kessel in a quartet or trio setting. The Poll Winners, Kessel's studio meetings with Ray Brown and Shelly Manne, are featured on "Satin Doll," "Angel Eyes" (with a nice bass solo from Brown) and "You Go to My Head." Bassist Red Mitchell duets with Kessel on "My Old Flame and "Laura."
This is a terrific album for late evening relaxation. However, four selections just do not belong. "This Guy's in Love with You" features a mood-shattering solo by Kessel which the album could do without. On "It Could Happen to You," "Laura" and "You Go to My Head," the level on the bass microphone was apparently set too high and the resulting distortion is unpleasant.
The casual listener will pass over these points and enjoy the album for what it is - an hour of soft renditions of great melodies played by some of the best jazz musicians.
1. Embraceable You
2. I'm Glad There is You
3. What is There to Say?
4. Satin Doll
5. My Funny Valentine
6. This Guy's in Love with You
7. Angel Eyes
8. Just in Time
9. My Reverie
10. Love is Here to Stay
12. It Could Happen to You
13. My Old Flame
15. You Go to My Head
16. I'm Through with Love
Barney Kessel (guitar)
Red Mitchell, Rufus Reid, Harry Babasin, Ray Brown, Jerry Good, Chuck Domanico, Leroy Vinnegar, Monty Budwig (bass)
Irv Cottler, Ben Riley, Shelly Manne, Stan Popper, Elvin Jones (drums)
Jimmy Rowles, Kenny Barron, Arnold Ross,Hampton Hawes, Claude Williamson (piano)