Guitarist Joe Pass was known for his forthright, straight-ahead style, gorgeous tone, and melodic concepts. This magnificent five-CD set collects his entire output in 1963 and 1964 as a leader, with additional sessions in which Pass plays in a trio led by Les McCann. Most of the tracks feature a quartet (the five exceptions adding the saxophone or flute of Bill Perkins), with the guitarist virtually always a key voice. Pass recorded three records for Pacific after 1964 with limited jazz content, and they are not included in this collection for that reason. While many of the dozens of selections included here do not measure up to Pass' exemplary work recorded later on Pablo Records (a prime example being his classic Virtuoso LP), there are fine tracks to be found in the instant set that no admirer of either Pass or of the jazz guitar will want to be without. This is particularly true of the Django LP sessions with guitarist John Pisano, originally issued on Pacific, as well as the final CD in the instant collection that was initially issued on the Blue Note label, and on which the individual tracks are noticeably lengthier and more substantial. Elsewhere, some of the repertoire is checkered, mixing movie themes, country & western, soul, and jazz standards. But who can really complain about hearing the great guitarist playing Hank Williams' "Hey, Good Lookin'" or "Cold, Cold Heart"? As with all the Mosaic boxed sets, this one comes in a strictly limited edition with a comprehensive, oversized booklet containing a detailed discography and liner notes, extreme attention to detail, and excellent sound quality.
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