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Barney Kessel Dies

Barney Kessel, one of the finest and most lyrical guitarists ever to emerge in jazz, died Thurs., May 6 in his San Diego home, of effects stemming from a cancerous brain tumor, which he was diagnosed with in 2001. He was 80.

Kessel had not been able to play music since May of 1992, when he suffered a stroke. He was far from forgotten, however. In addition to a long career in jazz that saw him record many sessions as a leader, as well as support jazz masters like Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, Kessel played in rock, pop and radio, television and film. He backed singers Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson and Doris Day, among others, and was among the musicians who contributed to the Beach Boys’ 1966 masterpiece Pet Sounds.

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