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.
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.