Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Relaxed swinging jazz recording from the guitar giant. Joe Pass (born Joseph Passalaqua) knew how to conjoin melody and chords. Moreover, he brought the walking bass line into the jazz guitar repertoire, as heard in his duo performances with Ella Fitzgerald. Since the American had a first-class bassist in Eberhard Weber at his side during his June 1970 MPS session in Germany’s idyllic Black Forest, Pass could concentrate on playing the melody and the chords. Weber, who comes from Stuttgart, Germany, would soon develop his own electric bass, but at this point he was still playing the traditional acoustic contrabass. Third in the group was British drummer Kenny Clare (not to be confused with American drummer Kenny Clarke). Pass chose the program for the recording, mixing standards with originals. It’s amazing how such typical big band pieces as “Stompin’ at the Savoy” and “Lil’ Darlin’” sound in trio; Pass and company swing like they were Count Basie and his orchestra. The 1970 liner notes designate “I Love You” as the album’s high point: “It is a small jewel for guitar, bass, and drums. Eberhard Weber has a short but exciting solo. Kenny Clare attacks with elaborate brush work throughout. Joe Pass plays with a feather-light sense of swing. His refined lines have a singable quality to them, and he often phrases as if he were a saxophonist.”
Liner Note Author: Hans Hielscher.
Recording information: MPS-Studio, Villingen (06/1970).
Photographer: German Hasenfrath.
Translator: Martin Cook.
Joe Pass recorded almost exclusively for American record labels during his long career, so this 1973 studio date for BASF is a rare exception. With bassist Eberhard Weber and drummer Kenny Clare's brushwork, the legendary guitarist plays a half dozen or so standards, including gently swinging takes of "Chloe" and "Stompin' at the Savoy," a soft arrangement of Jobim's Meditation," and a very lively version of "I Love You" (also featuring solos by his rhythm section). He also improvises the tasty "Joe's Blue's," plays a light samba written by the session's recording director ("El Gento"), puts some life into the normally tame 1960s pop hit "Ode to Billie Joe" by playing it in a Latin groove, and concludes with the very familiar standard from the Count Basie songbook, "Lil' Darlin'," which he must have performed hundreds of times during his career. While his playing is rather reserved compared to his later extensive recordings for Pablo, and this release is by no means near the top of the late guitarist's considerable discography as a leader or soloist, fans of Joe Pass who listen to this set won't be disappointed. ~ Ken Dryden