Joe Pass: Unforgettable

With Art Tatum’s legendary solo piano sessions in mind, producer Eric Miller put a nylon-string acoustic in the hands of Joe Pass and let the tape roll. Some of the remarkable results of that brainstorm are heard on this collection-recorded in 1992, only two years before the guitarist’s death.

Joe lapses into easy rocking swing grooves on tunes like “Walking My Baby Back Home,” “I Can’t Believe You’re in Love With Me,” and “Isn’t It Romantic,” where he intermingles sleek chord voicings, moving bass lines, and deft single-note runs; however, it’s the ballad treatments of the remaining material that make up the heart of this album. Here Joe milks chestnuts like “My Romance,” “The Very Thought of You,” and “Spring Is Here” for every ounce of sentimentality, freely rendering them with a wealth of devices, including rippling arpeggios and off-the-cuff counterpoint. Musicians will marvel at Pass’ innovative solo voice, facility, and encyclopedic array of harmonic devices, while casual listeners will be soothed by the session’s gentle mood. Overall, a vivid look at one facet of the greatest jazz guitarist since Wes Montgomery.