GEORGE BARNES: THE PROCESS offers never-released recordings of Barnes at work with fellow masters.
The first from the series: GEORGE BARNES – AT HOME WITH FRIENDS IN 1941
In the spring of 1941, 19-year-old guitarist George Barnes had already been a national radio star for almost two years, and enjoyed jamming with his colleagues after they’d wrapped their respective NBC shows. In March, June, and September of 1941, George’s friends — including violinist Benny Gill, rhythm guitarist Bill Huntington, and bassist Bill Moore — dropped by his Chicago apartment in The Chelsea Hotel and played into the wee hours. These 15 tracks were recorded directly to acetate discs by recordist Joe Campbell, who had been a Barnes fan since the first time he heard 17-year-old George play at Gus Williams’ Nameless Cafe on Chicago’s West Side.
With each playing, the discs acquired the inevitable patina of age. But we can still easily hear in these pre-WWII home recordings George’s early explorations of his musical options. His guitar on “Texas Blues” is quintessential Barnes, but his chord solo in “On the Sunny Side of the Street” will surprise even the most knowledgeable Barnes aficionados — as will the tracks containing his extraordinary, even eccentric, piano inventions, clearly influenced by Fats Waller and Art Tatum, to whom he listened when he first laid his hands on the keys as a toddler.
We’ve added two bonus tracks to this collection, from October of 1941, when George and fellow electric guitarist Ernie Varner recorded two Barnes originals. G Minor Spin and Swoon of a Goon are historic commercial recordings that heralded a new age of guitar, and are accompanied in this release by a 1941 Music and Rhythm article featuring George, and never-before-published photos of an impromptu 1967 Barnes-Varner reunion in Arlington, Texas.
This collection also includes Joe Campbell’s handwritten notes about the jam sessions, as well as segments from a radio interview with Joe from 1990, in which he shares his firsthand experience of Barnes’ early days. Joe wrote “Nightfall,” which George performs four different ways: as a solo, in a duo with rhythm guitarist Bill Huntington, in a trio with Huntington and bassist Bill Moore, and in a duo with his first wife, vocalist Adrienne Barnes.
These entertaining recordings provide fresh insight into Barnes’ early works, and are a must-have for any Barnes fan, student, or collector.
- Barnes’ jam sessions and rehearsals with Bucky Pizzarelli, Sal Salvador, Ruby Braff, Jack Lesberg, Michael Moore, Wayne Wright, Marian McPartland
- Barnes’ live Performances with Carl Kress, The Braff-Barnes Quartet, The George Barnes Trio (with special guest Jack Lesberg)
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