All About Jazz

Home » Articles » DVD/Film Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

291

Norman Granz' Jazz In Montreux Presents: Joe Pass '75

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Joe Pass
Norman Granz' Jazz In Montreux Presents: Joe Pass '75
Eagle Eye Media
2006 (1975)

It's not often you get a second chance in life, but the late guitarist Joe Pass was one of the fortunate few. After starting out playing in big bands like Charlie Barnet's in the 1940s, Pass' drug addiction and resulting jail sentence kept him off the scene for a decade until 1962, when he returned with a series of recordings for Pacific Jazz. For Django (Pacific Jazz, 1964) was especially momentous, and Pass began to receive greater recognition as an innovative mainstream guitarist whose clear roots in Charlie Christian brought a fresh perspective to music associated with the legendary Django Reinhardt.

But it wasn't until 1973, when Pass signed up with impresario Norman Granz' Pablo label and released Virtuoso—the first in a series of landmark solo guitar recordings—that he began to garner more widespread acclaim. Unlike Lenny Breau, whose ability to sound like two—sometimes three—guitarists at once was equally memorable, Pass was a master of implication. He could play a series of chord changes and then depart for a dazzling flurry of single notes, but somehow you still heard those changes in your head. Or he might shift seamlessly between chords, faux-bass runs and higher register melodies, but taken together they created a sense of the whole song that was remarkable.

Pass would go on to record dozens of records for Pablo until his death from cancer in 1994 at the all-too-young age of 65. His group recordings and collaborations with other legends including pianist Oscar Peterson, singer Ella Fitzgerald and vibraphonist Milt Jackson were almost uniformly superb, but it was his solo recordings that would ultimately carve a place for Pass in jazz history.

Part of the Norman Granz' Jazz In Montreux series, Joe Pass '75 catches Pass in his ascendancy. Comprised of two sets on two consecutive nights in July, 1975, Pass' unerring ability to create a more complete sonic world through masterful implication is in full force. Whether it's Luis Bonfa's "Mahna De Carnaval, Reinhardt's classic "Nuages, Pass's own "Joe's Blues or more contemporary fare like Stevie Wonder's "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life, Pass creates a common thread of improvisational flare throughout.

Pass also knows how to sequence a set, with an ebb and flow that, on both nights, starts slowly and builds to a more rousing finale each night ("Montreux Changes, "Montreux Changes Too ) that's pure improv. Keith Jarrett he wasn't, but Pass had his own approach to pulling music out of the ether that was—and remains—in a space all its own.

For guitarists the DVD is a delight—a chance to watch Pass close-up and gain insight into just how he did what he did. For those who don't play, the camerawork is interesting enough to make it a thoroughly engaging watch and, with PCM Stereo, DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound options, a rich listen. Unfortunately, throughout the first set, his amplifier appears to be getting moved and there is the occasional crackle of his reverb, but there's no way that could be cleaned up, and it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the set.

Those who prefer more edge to their jazz might find Pass too mainstream for their taste. But Pass was a true master of the guitar, and whether or not lessons learned are used in pursuit of more contemporary styles, the fact is there are lessons to be learned.

Personnel: Joe Pass: guitar.

Tracks: More Than You Know; It's A Wonderful World; Mahna De Carnaval; Joe's Blues; Nuages; Blues; I'm Glad There Is You; Willow Weep For Me; Montreux Changes; Summertime; You Are The Sunshine Of My Life; The Very Thought Of You; Blues For Nina; Li'l Darlin'; How Long Has This Been Going On; Montreux Changes Too.

Approximate Running Time: 79 Minutes
Recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, July 17-18, 1975.

Extra Features: Portrait of Norman Granz narrated by Nat Hentoff; Drawings by David Stone Martin; Pictures by Georges Braunschweig.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read The Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed Live DVD/Film Reviews
The Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed Live
by John Kelman
Published: April 14, 2018
Read Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience DVD/Film Reviews
Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience
by Doug Collette
Published: March 10, 2018
Read The Doors: Live At The Isle of Wight Festival 1970 DVD/Film Reviews
The Doors: Live At The Isle of Wight Festival 1970
by Doug Collette
Published: February 24, 2018
Read Van Morrison In Concert DVD/Film Reviews
Van Morrison In Concert
by Doug Collette
Published: February 17, 2018
Read Django: A Film As Much About History and Culture as About A Musical Icon DVD/Film Reviews
Django: A Film As Much About History and Culture as About A...
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: February 12, 2018
Read Saxophone Colossus Featuring Sonny Rollins: A Film By Robert Mugge DVD/Film Reviews
Saxophone Colossus Featuring Sonny Rollins: A Film By...
by Doug Collette
Published: January 5, 2018
Read "Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings" DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First 40 Years" DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary" DVD/Film Reviews Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: July 4, 2017
Read "Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015" DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 30, 2017
Read "La La Land" DVD/Film Reviews La La Land
by Gareth Thomas
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience" DVD/Film Reviews Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience
by Doug Collette
Published: March 10, 2018