During 1974-1980, the Great Guitars (Charlie Byrd, Barney Kessel, and Herb Ellis with Byrd's rhythm section) recorded five fine albums. The group became less active in the 1980s, and a stroke ended Kessel's career. In 1996, the Great Guitars regrouped, with guests Mundell Lowe and Larry Coryell helping out. This 1998 sampler has selections from five of the six Concord albums. Strangely enough, it jumps around chronologically (the 1996 date is represented by the second, fourth, and eighth selections). Overall, there are plenty of hot selections here, including an Ellis-Kessel duet on "Down Home Blues" and heated renditions of "Lover" and "Air Mail Special." A good introduction to the band, which lived up to its name, although fans of the players will want the complete sessions (all of which are available on CD) instead.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow