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Joe Pass: Virtuoso in New York

Joe Pass

In the 1970s Joe Pass recorded four matchless solo guitar LPs for Pablo, all aptly titled Virtuoso. Call this new CD Virtuoso No. 5 if you like: Virtuoso in New York (Pablo) collects nine previously unreleased Pass tracks from a 1975 solo session overseen by Norman Granz that proves the guitarist was a living, breathing textbook of jazz technique. Swing. Melody. Tone. Time. In 50 minutes one man alone gives a complete lesson for musician and nonmusician jazz students alike.

Though not as sublime as the first Virtuoso disc from ’73, it’s never a chore to hear Pass run through familiars like “Ghost of a Chance,” “Moritat” and “We’ll Be Together Again” in the wild way only he could, taking quick asides off the melody and then riffing off his own riffing, with a warm tone and amazing articulation for the speed he attains. Listening to his flights from the main line of “The Way You Look Tonight” is like peering at the machinations of his brain.

Still, with plenty of Pass solo recordings already on the market that exhibit him as a more soulful, heart-inspired player, you might find more to enjoy on previous Virtuoso discs-unless you’re knee deep into the guitarist and just can’t enough.

Originally Published