Herb Ellis

Arrival: Jazz/Concord/Seven, Come Eleven

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For lovers of guitar jazz, inspired pairings like Joe Pass and Herb Ellis make for special outings. While both players prospered in a number of settings, they brought out a new quality in each other when paired together, bumping up the energy a notch or two. Arrival is special because it reissues the duo's first two albums with Concord: Jazz/Concord in 1973 and the live Seven, Come Eleven in 1974 (also Concord's first two albums). The quartet is completed by bassist Ray Brown and drummer Jake Hanna, two fine players who keep the program bopping along. Both discs, filled with reliable standards, are excellent in different ways. Arrival kicks off with "Look for the Silver Lining," which bounces along like the perfect daydream for nearly five minutes. The stereo separation of the two guitars sounds great on the hi-fi, and renditions of "Stuffy" and "Georgia" are fantastic. Seven, Come Eleven begins with "In a Mellow Tone" but really blasts off with the title track, a Charlie Christian/Benny Goodman tune played faster than one can imagine anyone's fingers moving. This set, unlike Jazz/Concord, feeds from the energy of the audience. While the roots of both of these recordings date back to swing, the music never sounds like a nostalgia trip. Instead, these discs have captured Pass and Ellis in the moment, delivering crisp solos and dense accompaniment. Arrival offers two great CDs and a chance to check out, or revisit, two great guitarists.

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