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.
Track Listing: Disc 1: Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma; You Stepped Out Of A Dream; Time For Love; Donte's Inferno; You Are The Sunshine Of My Life; Secret Love; Sweet Georgia Brown (Total Time: 67:41).
Disc 2: Stompin At The Savoy; Darn That Dream; Milestones; Lullaby Of The Leaves; What Are You Doing With The Rest Of Your Life; Blues For Pamela (Total Time: 67:41).
Personnel: Joe Pass: Guitar; Jim Hugart: Bass; Frank Severino: Drums.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.