Any discussion of Jazz guitar will usually lead with three names: Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, and Joe Pass. A native of New Brunswick, New Jersey, Pass performed in the swing bands of Tony Pastor and Charlie Barnett. He spent time in the army, took ten years off with a nagging heroin addiction and in 1962, emerged from the California-based Synanon to record several albums for Pacific Jazz and World Pacific. Pass stayed under the radar until 1973, when he was detected by the talent intelligence of Norman Granz at Pablo Records. Virtuoso, released in 1973, made Pass famous. Over the next our years, Virtuoso #2, Virtuoso#3, and Virtuoso #4 were released, further elaborating pass' dominance as the Oscar Peterson (or Art Tatum, if you will) of the jazz guitar.
For present consideration is a 1974 set at LA's famous Donte's. After having established himself as a solo guitarist par excellence, Pass records here in a trio setting. The results are relaxed and very effective. This is a typical recital that well demonstrates Pass' omnivorous musical knowledge. The guitarist never shied away from challenge and was prone to include "recent" compositions in his concerts. This show rolls out Melanie's confection "Look What they've Done To My song, Ma" and Stevie Wonder's classic "You Are the Sunshine of My Life." And there are plenty of the classics, most notably a neo-reggae "Stompin' at the Savoy" and a bouncy, good natured "Sweet Georgia Brown."
Pass' rhythm section swings and plays with the freedom of the Miles Davis second quintet. Very Post Bop. Jim Hugart's electric Fender Bass is only scary in thought (scary for acoustically oriented electric Luddites). Hugart provides a warm, steady walk where necessary and full-bodied solos when called on. The same is true for drummer Frank Severino. The entire product is a welcome reissue from Pablo. No one could play guitar Like Joe Pass.
Personnel: Joe Pass: Guitar; Jim Hugart: Bass; Frank Severino: Drums.