The Poll Winners - Barney Kessel with Shelly Manne & Ray Brown
The Poll Winners - Barney Kessel with Shelly Manne & Ray Brown
The Poll Winners - Barney Kessel with Shelly Manne & Ray Brown
The Poll Winners - Barney Kessel with Shelly Manne & Ray Brown
The Poll Winners - Barney Kessel with Shelly Manne & Ray Brown
The Poll Winners - Barney Kessel with Shelly Manne & Ray Brown

The Poll Winners - Barney Kessel with Shelly Manne & Ray Brown

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Bass – Ray Brown [click here to see more vinyl featuring Ray Brown]

Drums – Shelly Manne [click here to see more vinyl featuring Shelly Manne]

Guitar – Barney Kessel


1 LP, gatefold old-style tip-on jackets

Original analog Master tape : YES

Heavy Press : 180g

Record color : black

Speed : 33RPM

Size : 12”



Record Press : Quality Record Pressings

Label : Acoustic Sounds Series

Original Label : Contemporary Records

Recorded March 18 & 19, 1957 at Contemporary's Studio, Los Angeles

Engineered by Howard Holzer, Roy DuNann

Produced by Lester Koenig

Remastered by Bernie Grundman

Originally released in 1957

Reissued in 2022



Side A:

  1. Jordu
  2. Satin Doll
  3. It Could Happen to You
  4. Mean to Me

Side B:

  1. Don't Worry 'bout Me
  2. On Green Dolphin Street
  3. You Go to My Head
  4. Minor Mood
  5. Nagasaki



      Reviews :

      “If the picture of three grown men hanging onto giant, colored swirl sticks looks a bit odd, or if the title The Poll Winners seems a bit conceited, the music, nonetheless -- recorded in 1957 -- still sounds great in 2002. Besides, guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Shelly Manne really did win polls in Down Beat, Playboy, and Metronome in 1956, and this is precisely what brought the players together. Here, on their first outing, they interpret nine pieces for 40 lovely minutes of modern jazz. After kicking off with a fine take on Duke Jordan's "Jordu," the group delivers an emotionally warm, six-minute version of "Satin Doll," one the album's highlights. While each player is always fully engaged in this small setting, Kessel's guitar supplies the lead voice. His expressive style has more in common with bluesy players like Kenny Burrell than cool ones like Tal Farlow. This quality leads to sensitive interpretations of melody-filled standards like "On Green Dolphin Street" and "It Could Happen to You." As is traditional in small settings, both Manne and Brown are also given a piece of the action, usually near the end of a tune. The choice of material, the interplay between the three players, and the lead work all meld together beautifully on The Poll Winners, making it a classic guitar album in a small-group setting.” AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.


      Muskogee native Barney Kessel is widely considered to be among the greatest jazz guitarists. A noted band leader, Kessel was renowned for session work that included Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, Billie Holiday, Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald and Roy Eldridge. Additionally, he was an integral member of the iconic pop music studio ensemble, The Wrecking Crew. A self-taught musician, Kessel had a unique grasp of straightforward and complex structures that made him an expressive soloist and group musician. A certain apex of his career was his Poll Winners album series with Ray Brown and Shelly Manne. These reflected the Downbeat and Metronome magazine annual polls.

      Craft Recordings has released a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of the debut of this trio. The Poll Winners: Barney Kessel With Shelly Manne And Ray Brown is a solid representation of a creatively interactive trio. Side 1 opens with the Duke Jordan composition, “Jordu”. The trio opens strong with a syncopated vamp featuring Kessel on lead and Brown’s propulsive bass. Manne’s subtle brush technique is excellent. Brown and Manne exchange with great timing while Kessel brings a deft touch to his chord-laden play. This dynamic small ensemble capture the innate, swaying elegance of Duke Ellington on the classic standard, “Satin Doll”. Kessel’s first solo glows with melodic articulation and bluesy touches. Brown accompanies in counterpoint while Kessel cuts loose. Brown’s concise solo is erudite and Manne’s turn in the spotlight is brief but memorable for its unique execution. “It Could Happen To You” (Van Heusen & Burke) is one of those popular tunes that has become a jazz touchstone (including covers by Miles Davis. Bud Powell, Ahmad Jamal, Dave Brubeck, Keith Jarrett and Sonny Rollins). Here the depth and fluidity of Kessel’s lyrical approach is translated. His delicate articulation infuses the opening and when the trio engages, the tempo uptick Is compelling. In a surprising arrangement, the torch ballad, “Mean To Me” gets a heavy dose of swing. Kessel’s exuberant play is palpable and the rhythm section responds in lockstep.

      Side 2 kicks off with another pop/jazz standard, “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me”. Against sparkling drum fills, Kessel’s lead is forcefully rhythmic with brilliant jazz intonation, and Brown trades off stylishly. “Green Dolphin Street’ was written for the 1947 film of the same name. Miles Davis re-invented it for the jazz idiom in 1958…now it is an iconic part of jazz lore. The trio percolates on this one, distilling the moodiness and exotic motifs, but instilling it with Latin flair. Slowing things down, another Great American Songbook tune (“You Go To My Head”) is exquisitely translated. This major-minor transition key opus is perfect for this group. Kessel embraces the wistful longing of the melody, with some additional flourish. Brown is equally adroit at interpreting the melancholic accents and Manne’s understated drum work is graceful. Kessel and Brown counter vamps at the beginning of a new Kessel composition, “Minor Moods”. Then a buoyant swing break permeates this jam as guitar and double bass exchange riffs before a return to the intro. The finale, “Nagasaki” is a high-octane performance that combines freewheeling instrumentation and precision. The pedigree of this song is mainly associated with big band jazz, and the dynamic trio emulates the late 20’s vibe.

      Craft Recordings had done an excellent job in re-mastering The Poll Winners to 180-gram vinyl. The ORP pressing is meticulous with little surface noise and no hisses or pops. Bernie Grumman’s stereo mix is precise with guitar in one speaker and double bass/drums in another. It is nicely balanced. For audiophiles, the original liner notes include a lot of technical information about the Western 45-45 “StereoDisk” cutting system.” Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition, June 2022


      Ratings :

      AllMusic : 4.5 / 5 ; Discogs : 4,37 / 5 ; Audiophile Audition : 4.5 / 5

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