Joe Pass: Nuages
Nuages is the second volume of material the late Joe Pass and his quartet performed at Yoshi's club in Oakland, California, in 1992. With the exception of bassist Monty Budwig (who died shortly after this recording), this is pretty much the same group that performed on Pass' renowned For Django album in 1963. Listening to the two guitars interacting and supporting one another, it's obvious that Pass enjoyed his music like this. The audience does too.
Nuages is an enjoyable collection of standards, one Pass original ("Blues For The Weasel") and the little-known Neal Hefti song, "Repetition." Much of this collection focuses on the slower tempos, with "Nuages" a clear highlight. Pass, as always, is a thoughtful, communicative player who, no matter how dazzling his playing, never fails to draw in listeners. The moody, bossa-nova take of "Repetition," originally intended for the first album (Joe Pass & Co.), is one of this disc's best tracks. It glides along on a gentle swing and evokes warm, romantic places. Another highlight is the Pass blues. It's always a genuine treat hearing him knock out the blues. He could do it in his sleep, but he always makes it sound perfectly inspired too.
When tempos pick up a bit, as in "I Remember You," "Cherokee" and "What Is This Thing Called Love," the interaction between Pass and Pisano kicks into gear too. Each of these performances reminds you how fun jazz can be for the players and the listeners. This listener was reminded of the rapport and chemistry guitarists Gabor Szabo and Jimmy Stewart shared in the late 60s. Compare their live performance of "What Is This Thing Called Love" (from Szabo's disc, The Sorcerer) with the Pass/Pisano version heard here. For four such dissimilar and unique guitarists, striking similarities abound.
Everything Joe Pass recorded is worth hearing. And whether solo, or with a group as he is here, he was always best in performance. Nuages is an easily recommended collection fans won't want to pass on and a great place to hear terrific guitar jazz.