During the last few years of his life, guitarist Joe Pass enjoyed having reunions with the same musicians who played with him 25 years earlier for the classic For Django recording: rhythm guitarist John Pisano, bassist Jim Hughart and drummer Colin Bailey. This 1989 recording could almost be called For Django 2, for it is the same vein as the original. Pass takes his remake of "For Django" unaccompanied and performs four of Django's tunes, along with five standards from the 1930s and three originals. Pisano, who was instrumental in organizing the session and the repertoire, sticks to acoustic guitar, while Pass alternates between acoustic and electric. Although Joe Pass' main influence was Charlie Christian and he really does not sound like Reinhardt, he manages to evoke the spirit of Django while swinging in his own fashion. It is particularly nice hearing such tunes as "Belleville," the haunting "Tears" and "For Django" in newer versions.
Joe Pass was without peer as a jazz guitarist during the last two decades of his life; this is one of many expected posthumous releases to emerge since his death. Because Pass concentrated primarily on solo and small-group recording sessions, it is a treat to hear him backed by larger ensembles like the NDR Big Band and Radio Philharmonic. The arrangements are respectful of the star and unobtrusive, with show tunes ("On a Clear Day"), standards ("Soft Winds"), and originals like his upbeat "Waltz for Django." The only person who might be dissatisfied with this CD would have been Joe himself, who was extremely well known for criticizing nearly every recording he ever released.
As this lavishly boxed, four-CD distillation of his Pablo sessions proves, Joe Pass was probably the guitar-playing equivalent of Art Tatum on the Norman Granz roster – not only for his vast output, but also for the all-encompassing, almost orchestral way in which he got around his instrument. The set is divided equally into four sections – disc one for his astounding solo electric and acoustic guitar sides, disc two for studio recordings with various groups, disc three for various live recordings solo and with groups, disc four the delicate Ella Fitzgerald and other duo partner sessions and quartet pieces backing Sarah Vaughan…
Although André Previn had not recorded a regular jazz album in 27 years at this point in time (discounting a pair of Itzhak Perlman sessions featuring Previn's compositions), the great majority of the performances on this trio set with guitarist Joe Pass and bassist Ray Brown are first takes. Previn took time off from his busy schedule in the classical music world to return briefly to jazz, his first love. The results are often magical. Previn, Pass and Brown play together as if they had been touring as a group for years. The pianist is generous with solo space and Pass' solos are sometimes exhilarating. For Previn, it is as if the previous three decades did not occur for he plays in a style little changed from 1960, displaying an Oscar Peterson influence mixed in with touches of Lennie Tristano and Bill Evans.
Virtuoso guitarist Joe Pass didn't need sidemen on any recording, but when he used them, he chose wisely. Tenor saxophonist Plas Johnson, keyboardist Gerald Wiggins and drummer Tootle Heath had not recorded with Pass previously, but along with bassist Andy Simpkins, they achieve a perfect first-take sound on each track. The title cut features Pass with Johnson's bluesy sax and a soft organ and brushed background. Two Pass originals are lengthy blues vehicles with plenty of solo space for all. "I Remember You" is an unlikely choice that developed from Wiggins' jamming in the studio; the ballad is a relaxing detour from the blues that dominate the CD. Joe Pass was without peer on guitar the last 20 years of his life; his playing here won't disappoint.
A significant recording, as this is Joe Pass' debut on vinyl. It was recorded while Pass was still a patient at the Synanon Drug Center in California. Made with fellow patients, Pass proved to be a star. It is interesting to note that Pass played an electric solid-body rock guitar, as he did not even own a guitar at this time. His legendary chops are especially evident on "Projections" and "Hang Tough," featuring some of his cleanest playing ever recorded. His accompanists prove to be adequate, but hardly approach the genius of Pass. A landmark recording in the history of jazz guitar.
Joe Pass, Catch Me. One of the greatest jazz guitar albums of all time, Catch me captures guitar legend Joe Pass, with pianist Clare Fischer. The two were a match made in heaven. Mostly, this album just has Joe Pass and crew swinging standards, but they make them sound so fresh and new. The beautiful rendition of Catch Me, is so vibrant, bright, and melodic. Pass plays great at those up-tempo tunes. The group swings down home on Summertime. Pass struts his blues side of him on this one, and the outcome is tremendous.