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    Brush With Greatness - Bruce Girard

    This week we hear from listener Bruce Girard:

    I was a teenage rock guitarist living in the outskirts of Montreal back in the 60’s, playing in local bands, covering songs that were on the radio and on records ... whatever came along. And jazz? An intriguing mystery.

    One day, someone gave me some old vinyl: "Julie Is Her Name" by Julie London, featuring Barney Kessel on guitar. I played that record a lot. I wondered what on earth Barney Kessel was doing on guitar! It was so far advanced over our three-chord rock tunes. The big hit off that record was "Cry Me A River" with its strange, discordant opening guitar chords. They played in my ear for years. Still do.

    Time went by, my music tastes changed, and I started exploring jazz sounds on my guitar. I moved to Toronto, tuning into CJRT-FM's jazz shows. One day in the early 80’s I saw Barney Kessel play a solo guitar gig at George’s Spaghetti House in Toronto. Got there extra early. It was great to watch. Between sets, I walked up to Barney and said something like,

    “I always wanted to thank you for that record you made with Julie London, way back when.”.

    He had to think for a couple of beats - how many records had he played on, how many times with Julie London? He smiled, shook my hand and said, “Oh, yeah, thanks”.

    That was it.

    Over this past decade, I read all I could find about that famous group of LA studio musicians called The Wrecking Crew. They played on *so* many of the records I heard through my young years. And Barney Kessel was one of the main guitar guys in the Wrecking Crew.

    So, that evening in Toronto, I shook the hand that had played on the countless pop music records that got me playing and listening to music in the first place.

    Bruce Girard

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