Joe Pass: In Hamburg

Recorded in 1990 and 1992, this album captures the late guitarist Pass with the NDR big band plus, on six of the 15 tracks, the Radio Philharmonie Hannover. As always, Pass’ playing is warm, well ordered and swinging. The big band and orchestra serve mainly as a backdrop for his lead. The tunes include familiar standards (“On a Clear Day,” “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” “Indian Summer,” “Star Eyes,” et al.) and little-known Pass originals. The latter (“For Nina,” “Sweet Bossa,” “Fragments of Blues,” “I’ll Know” and “Waltz for Django”) are melodic and are arranged as sumptuously as the standards. (Seven arrangers contributed to the album, including Lex Jasper, conductor and arranger of the tracks with the Radio Philharmonie.) If there is a slight negative in all this, it is a mood-music feeling. But Pass’ exemplary jazz playing is always a kick.