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Great Guitars

A sporadically repeating supergroup featuring Charlie Byrd, Natural herb Ellis, and Barney Kessel, Great Guitars’ portentous name bears enormous objectives. But with world-class talent like these three working in comfy mainstream nation, the music is normally worth the billing, genially swinging and harmonically erudite, with Byrd’s traditional and Latin affects playing against Ellis’ and Kessel’s Charlie Christian-grounded solo bop. Founded in 1973, Great Guitars documented its initial live record in July of 1974 — it had been the fledgling Concord Jazz label’s 4th release — as well as the three would reunite occasionally to tour and record four even more albums. Though a crippling heart stroke in 1992 finished Barney Kessel’s profession, Byrd and Ellis continued with Great Guitars, adding Ron Escheté towards the lineup on the Carl Jefferson tribute concert on the Concord Pavilion in July 1995, and documenting an excellent reunion record in 1996 with Mundell Lowe and, on five monitors, Larry Coryell.

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