VOICES Notes and news on Jazz releases
09 APR 10 CHRIS SLAWECKI
If you christen an album of unaccompanied instrumental solos with the title Virtuoso, it had better demonstrate the chops to back it up. In this sense, Joe Pass' Virtuoso could not be more perfectly titled. Originally produced by Norman Granz for his Pablo label in 1973, and now newly refurbished in the OJC Remaster series, it laid waste and then reshaped the landscape for guitarists much like Art Tatum did for pianists of earlier jazz generations.
Pass turns "Stella by Starlight" (just one example) into a conversation with himself, twirling tornados of spiraling single note runs that you can barely believe, reflected back upon strummed chords of contemplation and wonder. "My Old Flame" burns through extended melodic improvisations that move from merely unbelievable to simply impossible, so ridiculously long yet still articulate and brilliant that all you can do is laugh in helpless amazement -- until Pass does it again in the very next tune, and bounces off "How High the Moon." After their frenzy and fury, soft and lovely "Sweet Lorraine" and "Have You Met Miss Jones?" deliver more comfortable respite.
Virtuoso was actually Pass' second unaccompanied solo date, but Pablo didn't release the first one until 1983 (as Virtuoso #4). Pass' catalog features many other unaccompanied solo guitar titles, no less brilliant, including: Virtuoso In New York (recorded in '75); Virtuoso #2 ('76); and the concert performances Blues Dues: Live At Long Beach City College ('84); and What Is There To Say: Joe Pass Solo ('90).
Stella By Starlight
Joe Pass, from Virtuoso [Original Jazz ...
When Your Lover Has Gone
Joe Pass, from Virtuoso In New York
Joe Pass, from Virtuoso No. 2
They Can't Take That Away From Me
Joe Pass, from What Is There To Say: Joe ...
in this playlist.