Presenting the first two Contemporary albums recorded by the Kessel-Brown-Manne Trio in its entirety: The Poll Winners and The Poll Winners Ride Again. These albums included here marked the first two out of five LPs made by the Trio. Both LPs were given top ratings when originally reviewed in Down Beat.
This formation began as the result of all three musicians sweeping the Metronome, Down Beat and Playboy polls, but quickly proved to be a greatly effective and popular unit. See full details in the 16-page comprehensive booklet.
01. JORDU (3:31)
02. SATÍN DOLL (6:34)
03. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU (4:27)
04. MEAN TO ME (6:30)
05. DON'T WORRV ABOUT ME (4:37)
06. ON GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (4:04)
07. YOU GO TO MY HEAD (4:24)
08. MINOR MOOD (3:22)
09. NAGASAKI (3:05)
10. BE DEEDLE DE DO (5:35)
11. VOLARE (NEL BLU, DIPINTO DI BLU) (4:23)
12. SPRING IS HERE (4:10)
13. THE SURREY WITH THE FRINGE ON TOP (5:30)
14. CUSTARD PUFF (4:27)
15. WHEN THE RED, RED ROBIN COMES BOB, BOB BOBBIN' ALONG (4:18)
16. FOREIGN INTRIGUE (3:22)
17. ANGEL EYES (4:43)
18. THE MERRY GO ROUND BROKE DOWN (2:12)
Total time: 79:24 min.
Tracks #1-9 from "The Poll Winners" (Contemporary C 3535). Recorded in Los Angeles, March 18-19, 1957.
Tracks #10-18 from "The Poll Winners Ride Again" (Contemporary C 3556). Recorded in Los Angeles, August 19 & 21, 1958.
Personnel on all tracks:
Barney Kessel (g), Ray Brown (b) and Shelly Manne (d).
-The Poll Winners
"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. 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."
Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr. -All Music Guide
-The Poll Winners Ride Again
"Guitarist Barney Kessel, bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Shelly Manne were dubbed "the Poll Winners" when they swept the Down Beat, Metronome, and Playboy polls during 1956-1957. They recorded several albums together and this CD reissue features the pianoless trio playing a variety of material, some of it a little odd (including "Volare," "Custard Puff," "When the Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob Bobbin' Along," and "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down"). This is a good outing, particularly for bop guitarist Barney Kessel."
Scott Yanow -All Music Guide
"There's very little that must be said about the value of The Poll Winners. It is virtuosity without the sacrifice of an air of relaxed enjoyment. There are splendid solos by each member, making this a ball for listeners and an unintended instructional record for guitarists, and drummers. These are the sounds of musicians who enjoy playing and who enjoy playing together. This is The Rhythm Section, and it's the Melodic Section, too. Definitely recommended."
Don Gold -Down Beat (1958)