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George Barnes

George Barnes (1921 - 1977) began his career in Chicago while still a teenager. In 1935 he was playing blues guitar backup for singers like Memphis Minnie and Blind John Davis before making his move to jazz. His first significant jazz recording was The George Barnes Sextet made for Keynote Records in 1946. His last two recordings were produced in 1977, by Concord Records, one just shortly before and one just after his death.

George Barnes was one of the most underrated of the jazz guitarists that came up during the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's. He was easily recognized for the duets he made with Carl Kress, but sometimes overlooked as one of the great jazz stylists and innovators.

Barnes was one of the very first guitarists to electrify his instrument and he was also one of the first to prove the guitar's abilities as a significant solo instrument. In fact, it is said that Barnes' ambition throughout his life was to make the guitar as important an instrument as the more commonly heard solo instruments. His 1946 interpretation of Lover Come Back To Me on Keystone, showed that already in 1946, Barnes had extended the guitar's role as a solo instrument. Unlike many of his early recordings where the solo spotlight was shared with other instruments, on this recording the guitar was the only solo instrument backed by bass, drums and rhythm guitar. This extraordinary recording preceded and pointed the way to the great guitar recordings by Johnny Smith, Tal Farlow and many others.

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