All Thumbs
June 16, 2010 1:59 PM   Subscribe

I stopped there, in a sort of awe. here's the new Choir teacher, (way too flamboyant for a small town in the 70's and fired the next year), sitting in his office with an ES175 and a small amp just wailing some kind of jazz I had never heard, I played guitar, but was still on a CSNY diet. He just sits up, looks at me, and says... "What!? You telling me never heard of Joe Pass?"

Joe Pass was a seminal guitarist. After overcoming a serious heroin addiction at Synanon, he came back. Norman (race-busting pioneer behind Jazz at the Philharmonic) Granz's Pablo Records did a series of albums with him that are timeless. Though playing electric, he kept his tone so quiet, you could still hear his thumb hit the strings.

An appreciation.
posted by timsteil (16 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Who stopped there and who's the new Choir teacher?

Is there a missing link?
posted by sour cream at 2:15 PM on June 16, 2010

Sorry about that...I stopped there, and i cant remember the teacher's name
posted by timsteil at 2:19 PM on June 16, 2010

always liked the arrangement on this one
posted by the cuban at 2:22 PM on June 16, 2010

After seeing the post, checked him out on iTunes. Proceeded to by two albums (Virtuoso #1 & #2), and am regretting listening to him at work. I'm completely entranced, and getting nothing done. Absolutely amazing.
posted by changoperezoso at 2:23 PM on June 16, 2010

Damn. I've been gigging with so many jazz guitarists for so many hours a week for so many years and have been surrounded by his recordings for so long I actually started to take him for granted. I should probably correct that.
posted by sourwookie at 2:30 PM on June 16, 2010

I've been on a serious Wes Montgomery kick for the past few months and's radio recommended Joe Pass. I just love his style.
posted by Tacodog at 2:55 PM on June 16, 2010

Yep, he's one of those musicians who has not gotten the recognition he has deserved, outside of the cabal of jazz guitarists and guitar fans. John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk...even non-jazz fans know them. There are other heroes of mine who are systematically underrated because of the idiosyncratic nature of their genius which manifested outwardly - the kiss of death.

(In other words, they said weird things and did wild things on stage.) I refer to Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Sun Ra. Perhaps deserving of FPP's although it's probably been done. Will check!

As far as Pass goes...I don't know why his brilliance hasn't been more widely acknowledged.
posted by kozad at 4:00 PM on June 16, 2010

Surprisingly, I didn't find anything major for Sun Ra, and the closest to a single FPP on the (mad)man was We travel the spaceways, which linked the YT-split version of The Brother from Another Planet documentary. Flapjax did a nice little write-up on Rahsaan, but more of an intro to the guy than a full bio post. Mr. Midnite also posted about the WFMU coverage of the Batman and Robin / Sun Ra’s Solar Arkestra and The Blues Project LP.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:23 PM on June 16, 2010

I'm scandalized that the only performance you provided was one of his 1980s guitar training videos. That can't be why you love his playing. There's all this great stuff out there, waiting for somebody to link them up:

Joe Pass and Neils-Henning Orsted Pederson on bass, doing a great turn on Donna Lee
Joe and Nils again a few years later, playing Move a little too fast to start, but it gets better.
Joe solos on All the Things You Are before the rest of the trio join in
Joe and Ella Fitzgerald ramble through Cry Me a River
Love for Sale, Joe and Herb Ellis. Unsurprisingly, it's bit noodly, but it's good-hearted and these two masters of guitar are having fun.
posted by ardgedee at 4:41 PM on June 16, 2010 [2 favorites]

I saw Joe Pass live a few years before he died; he shared the bill with Pepe Romero, Paco Pena, and Leo Kottke that night. He and Leo did a duet at the end. Pepe and Paco likewise.

That was a hell of a show.
posted by holterbarbour at 4:42 PM on June 16, 2010

You should be able to hear the thumb hitting the strings no matter how loud or soft the volume control is at. There is a pickup under the strings and it picks up all the other noises you are making with the guitar as well. Where you can't hear a guitarist's thumb hitting the strings is where the other sounds made by the musician and any accompanying musicians mask the sound of the thumb.

So I guess what you're saying is Joe played pretty quietly?
posted by awfurby at 5:46 PM on June 16, 2010

one of my favorite albums is Concert in Paris with Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass and NHOP. more than their fair share of sublime moments. Pass didn't play for years due to his heroin habit. The Virtuoso albums, I think, are part of his come back later in life.
posted by sineater at 5:59 PM on June 16, 2010

[fixed the link, carry on]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:24 PM on June 16, 2010

Thank you for this much needed relief.
posted by bardophile at 4:15 AM on June 17, 2010

awfurby, he did indeed play pretty, quietly or loudly!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:47 AM on June 17, 2010

I loves me some lightly amplified guitar, thanks.
posted by hortense at 8:58 PM on June 17, 2010

« Older ghosts don't wear shoes.   |   Orthodox Muslims consider both Ahmadi movements to... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments