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Joe Pass: Meditation

No doubt the mostly widely recorded guitarist in the annals of jazz, the inimitable Joe Pass left dozens of unissued performances, which, happily for fans, continue to be released on the Pablo label under the auspices of Fantasy. This latest posthumous release-Meditation (Pablo), recorded live in early 1992 (Pass died in 1994)-features him on solo electric guitar, a format he began exploring in depth back in 1973 when he originally issued his seminal Virtuoso LP. In Pass’ hands, no tune seemed to elude performance, and he tackled everything-from bebop numbers to waltzes to standards to Latin pieces-with astonishing ease and effectiveness, something that is amply evident throughout this set. The title track opens the program and finds Pass simultaneously handling chords, single notes and supporting bass figures with characteristic skill and ingenuity, as he sometimes includes all at once before moving into an extended melodic excursion. With Pass, you never get the feeling that the momentum is failing or that the bottom is dropping out. Featured on Virtuoso, “All The Things You Are” gets a completely different makeover here, as Pass plays a series of pretty arpeggios before opting for a Latin feel-all undoubtedly spontaneously executed according to his whim at the time. Other highlights include a pensive rubato treatment of “Shadow Waltz,” a slowly grooving “Mood Indigo” and a swinging “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” whose title reflects a sentiment that applies to Pass’ position at the very top of the list of the world’s finest jazz guitarists.

Originally Published