Joe Pass achieved extraordinary balance in his career. Because he remained grounded in bop and swing, his guitar work was more conservative than many fusion and post-bop players, but his solo guitar work also ventured into unexplored territory, combining the single-note dexterity of Charlie Christian with the block chords of Carl Kress. Meditation: Solo Guitar offers a fresh release from Pass, recorded live at Yoshi's in 1992, two years before his death. As Ken Dryden points out in the liner notes, the release isn't just "a case of posthumously cleaning out the vaults." Like the critically acclaimed Virtuoso series, Meditation exhibits a number of intricate interpretations of classic pieces by one man and his guitar. The title also captures the intimacy of Pass' work on "Everything Happens to Me" and "Mood Indigo." He seems so absorbed in his work, so alone, that it comes as a shock when the audience applauds at the end of each piece. Pass also covers Cole Porter's "It's All Right With Me," Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is the Ocean?," and the Gershwin brothers' "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Pass' technique manages to follow his own muse, changing tempos at will without ever losing the rhythm of the tune. Meditation is a fine album and a superior addition to the guitarist's catalog.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.