Sunday, January 13, 2019

Pearls of Strings: Joe Pass 90

Another Sunday, another milestone birthday post for a guitar hero gone many moons, but never forgotten.
It's getting on 25 years he'll be, well, passed. Ok, that was bad. But he'd have probably laughed.
If you love melody and players that slide so effortlessly from voicing chords to soloing leads -- when they finish, all you hear is thunderous applause and the sound of the guitars of other aspirants to the throne crashing to the pavement from the roof -- I don't know that a guitarist has ever existed, or ever will exist, that can or will surpass Joe Pass.
No one ever made the clean tone sound so fresh and penetrating, yet so plaintive and reassuring, somehow. In an era when even most of the Jazz players had 64 pedals on the floor, his sound was and is instantly identifiable and a refuge from all the noise. Is there any escape from noise?
A native of New Jersey, I don't think this guy ever played a note or a phrase that didn't swing as hard as Joe Walcott, either.
His duets with Ella Fitzgerald -- including the one I'm sharing today -- are into a realm that, again, cannot be surpassed. When you hear this set, you'll be sure to be floored by the interplay these two legends perfected over their association, which lasted from the 1970s until they both left us in the 1990s.
This was taped 43 years ago in a small studio for the radio in Germany, and I think there's a TV thing of it too. But neither have ever officially seen the light of day, so here you go.
Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass
NDR Studios
Hamburg, Germany 

01 Them There Eyes 
02 Feelings
03 Feelings #2 
04 One Note Samba 
05 The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else 
06 Ain't Got Nothing But the Blues
07 My Old Flame 
08 Tennessee Waltz
09 Little Girl Blue (2nd version)
10 Perdido

Total time: 49:28

Ella Fitzgerald - vocals 
Joe Pass- guitar

sounds like a master or 1st gen off-air FM reel
A magical 49 minutes here, and why Ella wanted to hit Feelings again after the first dazzling adventure I'll never know. Like she didn't get enough feeling into the first try.
The Perfectionism of exquisite, irreplaceable artists who'll still be revered in thousands of years aside, today would have been the 90th birthday of Joe Pass... someone who may not be as household a name, but once you let him get up on ya with that axe for a couple of notes and wickedly inverted chords, shows you good and well why he belongs in that very same uppermost musical firmament.--J.
1.13.1929 - 5.23.1994