Despite the disappointing attempt at contemporary jazz on Note Worker, guitarist Frank Gambale proved on Passages that he doesn't give up easily. His reputation as a supreme technician had long been established during his years with Chick Corea and on his early solo releases, but Gambale had also been nurturing an identifiable group sound as well (regardless of the personnel). Unfortunately, his penchant for composition and arranging does not contain the same inspiration that his guitar playing does. Most of the selections lack imagination and creativity, and are simply vehicles for mind-blowing Gambale solos. This prevents him from achieving the same type of commercial success experienced by the likes of Pat Metheny or George Benson. The music here is livelier than on Note Worker, partly attributable to the presence of keyboard whiz Otmaro Ruiz and a cleaner guitar tone, but ends up being too inconsistent to have much of an impact for the fusion fanatics or contemporary jazz aficionados. Gambale would give this formula one more shot on Thinking Out Loud, but would eventually find his niche playing high-powered fusion with the genre's top players. Of note, the Japanese release contains a cover of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale."
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AllMusic Review by Robert Taylor