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Joe Pass: Nuages – Live at Yoshi’s, Volume 2

The follow up to 1993’s Joe Pass & Co. Live At Yoshi’s, this release was colored by sad circumstances: both bassist Monty Budwig and Pass were stricken with fatal illnesses. Nevertheless, all concerned, including drummer Colin Bailey and second guitarist John Pisano, play up to their usual high levels.

The opener, “I Remember You,” is taken at a medium tempo that gives Joe a chance to swing hard and phrase spaciously; he wades into the middle of Pisano’s solo for a beautiful contrapuntal twin guitar workout (especially catch how the rhythm section, seasoned veterans all, lays down a swinging, rock-steady pulse). Poignantly rendered, the title track is a sensitive duet between Pass and Pisano that salutes one of Joe’s early influences, the great Django Reinhardt. “Blues For The Weasel” represents one of the few times Pass recorded a minor blues (still, the tune modulates to major later on, when it takes on a shuffle groove), while “Cherokee” burns from start to finish.

Issued posthumously, this material is hardly sub-standard. Bristling with energy throughout, it helps document the final stages in the career of a player who, arguably, was the greatest mainstream guitarist since Wes Montgomery.

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