Kenny Wessel Bruce Arnold Bios

The Kenny Wessel Bruce Arnold Bios

The Kenny Wessel Bruce Arnold Bios page contain information on the careers of these two guitarists.

Kenny Wessel Bruce Arnold Bios

Kenny Wessel Bio

Kenny Wessel, a versatile, sensitive and soulful guitarist and composer, has performed in 28 countries. He toured with revolutionary jazz artist Ornette Coleman for over 12 years as a member of Prime Time, Ornette’s groundbreaking ensemble. Kenny can be heard on Coleman’s CD, Tone Dialing. Performing Ornette’s “Skies of America,” Wessel has appeared with Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic and London’s Philharmonia Orchestra. A vital and personal voice on the jazz guitar, he has also worked with Donald Fagen (featured guitar soloist on Fagen’s Morph the Cat), David Liebman, John Abercrombie, Karl Berger, Joe Lovano, Debbie Harry, Laurie Anderson, Gloria Lynne, Adam Rudolph and others from the jazz, pop and world music spectrum.

Ken has a strong interest in world music, particularly with North Indian music, and he has performed with Debashish Bhattacharya, Karaikudi Mani, V.M. Bhatt, Samir Chatterjee, Steve Gorn and others. Wessel co-leads a trio with jazz tabla master Badal Roy, Their CD, Daybreak was included in JAZZIZ magazine’s Top 10 Critic’s Picks. Ken and Badal toured India and the U.S. with their composition, “Testimony,” which was commissioned by the Battery Dance Company. Wessel’s most recent CD, Unstrung, will be released September 4, 2020 on Nonotes Records. His CD, Weights & Measures received 4 stars in Downbeat magazine. As a U.S. Jazz Ambassador, Ken has toured South Asia and South America, visiting India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bengladesh and Venezuela.

A dedicated jazz educator, Wessel currently teaches at Western Connecticut State University, City College of New York, in addition to leading ensembles at the New York Jazz Workshop. He also gives clinics and workshops around the world and has taught at universities and festivals, including:  Oslo Music Academy, ICSMS Festival (Istanbul, Turkey), Mahaidol University (Bangkok), Yale University, World Economic Forum (Davos, Switzerland), Manhattan School of Music, and many others.

Guitarist Bruce Arnold Kenny Wessel Bruce Arnold Bios

Bruce Arnold Bio

Guitarist Bruce Arnold’s passionate pursuit of new ideas and applications for his beloved six-string instrument has taken him from the minimalist landscapes of Sioux Falls, South Dakota to the bustling city of Boston, where he studied and later taught at the Berklee College of Music, to the hallowed halls of Princeton University, where he taught for 30 years, retiring in 2019. Along the way, the music educator and author has managed to document his innovative ideas for guitar on a series of potent recordings that explore the notion of applying highly complex 12-tone theoretical constructs and serial methods to modern American improvised styles. As he wrote in the liner notes to his ambitious 1996 debut recording, Blue Eleven: “All of the work reflects my goal to achieve a balance between emotional expression and formal exploration.”

Throughout his impressive body of work over the past 20 years, Arnold has deftly pulled together a myriad of musical influences ranging from Messiaen, Schoenberg and Webern on the contemporary classical side to Bill Frisell, Pat Metheny and John McLaughlin on the modern jazz guitar side. Furthermore, he has laid out his ideas in clear, concise fashion in the 52 instructional books that he’s written on ear training, theory and technique (including his mammoth, 700-page “The Sonic Resource Guide”). His latest educational outreach endeavor is “Bruce Arnold’s Jazz Guitar Summit NYC,” a series of guitar instructional videos that he oversaw for TrueFire Video ( which break down specific techniques for aspiring players. Such celebrated New York-based six-stringers as Jack Wilkins, Leni Stern, Sheryl Bailey, Peter Leitch, Mimi Fox, Brad Shepik, Peter McCann, Serbian-born classical guitarist Dusan Bogdanovic and other prominent players were recruited by Arnold for these enlightening instructional videos. As he explains, “This video series is an outgrowth of the New York University Summer Guitar Intensive that I headed up for six years. All of these people were coming in and doing clinics for the students in this program I established, and I just thought, ‘This is amazing! We need to document this.’ These are all great players with a lot to offer to aspiring guitarists who are looking to improve their playing significantly. It’s just a treasure trove of information for guitars of all levels.”

As for his own music, Arnold continues his various applications of the classical based pitch class set theory. explains. “This is something that I got into in the early ‘90s,” he explains. “When I was living in Boston, I had been playing in straight ahead jazz groups, fusion groups, rock groups, metal groups, and then when I moved to New York City in 1988 I started doing working with this band Spooky Actions where we played music by Messiaen, Webern and Schoenberg. And since then, this has actually been my baby — this whole pitch class set method. So now when I improvise, whether it’s on a jazz standard like ‘Stella By Starlight’ or McCoy Tyner’s ‘Passion Dance’ on a Webern piece or whatever, I’m using the pitch class sets that they used in the composition. That’s really my thing.”

Arnold’s focus on pitch class set theory since 1990 came after years of drifting between various styles of guitar playing. “When I was in Boston I was like the #1 call guitar player in town. It was like, ‘Oh, you want jazz? You want country? You want free improv?’ Whatever they wanted, I’d just do it. When I got to New York my attitude was, ‘I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to do something that expresses me!’ And that’s when I started exploring this hexatonic thing that McCoy Tyner was using, this idea of using two triads. And when I started teaching at Princeton, I began to realize that Schoenberg and Webern were doing the same thing, just with different sets of notes.” That eureka moment led 1996’s Blue Eleven, where he applied 12-tone constructs to a series of solo and trio “Variations.” After forming Spooky Actions in 1998 with saxophonist John Gunther, Arnold dove headlong into that heady territory on 2006’s Retrospective, which was devoted to the music of Webern, Schoenberg and Messiaen.

Kenny Wessel Bruce Arnold Bios

Heard Instinct CD Notes

Heard Instinct CD by Kenny Wessel and Bruce Arnold

Heard Instinct CD Notes

Heard Instinct CD Notes

To read more or to listen to the compositions on this CD please visit our Heard Instinct CD Page.

In general Bruce is on the left side and Kenny is on the right side of the mix, but they are not panned all the way, so even knowing that, it’s a bit hard to hear who is who. Here are some tips while you listen.

NOTE: Times are approximate to within one or two seconds:

Heard Instinct CD Notes for “Three and Fro” by Bruce Arnold

“Three and Fro” is based on a 1/2 and a minor 3rd. Bruce plays melody while Kenny plays bass notes for the head which repeats at 0:35. The they both solo together at 1:00 over what is basically a long form blues. Then they play the head out at 4:03, same arrangement as opening.

“Three and Fro”

You can purchase “Three and Fro” on the Apple Itunes website or at any online outlet that sells CDs such as

Apple Itunes

Heard Instinct CD Notes for “Pete’s Mistake” by Kenny Wessel

Heard Instinct CD Notes for “Pete’s Mistake” by Kenny Wessel

Bruce and Kenny start out improvising together over the A section of the tune. Then Bruce plays the head at 0:45 (form is AABA). Bruce solos at 1:33 and then Kenny solos at 3:52. At 6:10 we improvise together over the form. At 7:00 the head out is played by Kenny, and then at 7:46 we start trading 4’s.

“Pete’s Mistake”

You can purchase “Pete’s Mistake” on the Apple Itunes website or at any online outlet that sells CDs such as

Apple Itunes

Heard Instinct CD Notes for title cut “Heard Instinct” by Bruce Arnold

Bruce starts out playing harmonics while Kenny comps; then Bruce plays the head at 0:30 and Kenny solos at 1:00. Bruce solos at 3:00, then at 4:45 the head is played by Bruce with a tag ending.

“Heard Instinct” by Bruce Arnold

Guitarist Bruce Arnold’s “Heard Instinct” is a showcase for his formidable melodic compositional chops. It also recalls the wide open spaces of his native South Dakota. The head is a delicate reminiscence segueing into a solo admirably played with petal soft sensitivity by Kenny Wessel. Bruce Arnold takes the solo into flashier territory before bringing it back to its tender conclusion. “Heard Instinct” is a song with a simple melody, and a haunting emotional core.

“Heard Instinct”

You can purchase “Heard Instinct” on the Apple Itunes website or at any online outlet that sells CDs such as

Apple Itunes

Heard Instinct CD Notes for “Unstrung” by Kenny Wessel

Kenny plays the melody of the head which repeats at 0:25, then Bruce solos at 0:45. Kenny solos at 2:13. The head is played out at 3:42, which repeats at 4:00 and then at 4:29. They both tag the ending and solo together with a very interesting free improv.


You can purchase “Unstrung” on the Apple Itunes website or at any online outlet that sells CDs such as

Apple Itunes

Heard Instinct CD Notes for “Once” by Bruce Arnold

This is an AABA form which has a written part for both guitars for the head. It is basically structured as a counterpoint. Bruce plays the melody by himself (A) then at 0:16 Kenny enters with counterpoint (written) and Bruce continues by repeating the A head. The bridge appears at 0:32 and Kenny switches to melody. Then 0:48 is the last A where Bruce plays the melody. At 1:04 Kenny solos over the form. At 2:05 Bruce solos, then at 3:15 he plays the melody. At 4;15 the head is played out, 3:55 is the last A with a tag ending at 4:07.


You can purchase “Once” on the Apple Itunes website or at any online outlet that sells CDs such as

Apple Itunes

Heard Instinct CD Notes for “Sunset” by Kenny Wessel

Kenny plays the melody free while Bruce comps. The bridge comes in at 0:25 to approximately 0:35, then the melody is restated. 1:08 starts Kenny’s solo. The soloist cues each chord during the solos. 1:48 Kenny plays parts of the melody then continues soloing. Bruce solos at 4:25, again free soloist cueing each chord change. At 6:19 Kenny comes back in with melody. At 6:58 they start trading and playing together. Each soloist plays the chords in order but changes the speed at which the chords change creating a random collage and hopefully not playing over the same chord at the same time.Thus the soloing gets more and more free until 8:15 when Kenny comes back to the melody to the end.


You can purchase “Sunset” on the Apple Itunes website or at any online outlet that sells CDs such as

Apple Itunes

Heard Instinct CD Notes for “Somewhat Likely” by Kenny Wessel

This composition is composed using the chord changes for “Like Someone in Love.” Kenny plays melody at the top, then at 0:52 he solos. At 2:30 Bruce solos. Kenny plays the head at 5:00 and at 5:43 tag end played by Kenny.

“Somewhat Likely”

You can purchase “Somewhat Likely” on the Apple Itunes website or at any online outlet that sells CDs such as

Apple Itunes

Heard Instinct CD Notes for “Dakota Gumbo” By Bruce Arnold

This is a Blues based on a 1/2 and a minor 3rd: A written intro is followed by the melody which starts at 0:15 played by Kenny. The head repeats at 0:43 then Kenny solos at 1:06. Bruce solos at 2:23 with some of that South Dakota twang. At 3:38 both guitarists solo together. At 4:47 the head out is played by Kenny. The outro starts at 5:12.

“Dakota Gumbo”

You can purchase “Dakota Gumbo” on the Apple Itunes website or at any online outlet that sells CDs such as

Apple Itunes

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