Joe Pass

What Is There to Say: Joe Pass Solo Guitar

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Joe Pass was pretty much the undisputed king of jazz guitar during the last two decades of his life, and the appearance of yet one more set of previously unreleased material is cause for celebration. These unaccompanied performances come from a two-day engagement in 1990 at the Vine Street Bar & Grill in Hollywood, with the guitarist in fine form throughout, (though liner note writer Jim Ferguson notes a "surprise" chord by Pass in frustration at having missed a note near the end of "What Is There to Say?"). He was not one to rely on set arrangements but excelled in risk-taking improvisations, as is proven right away with the sensational opening version of John Lewis' "Django." Pass inserts some fast runs into the loping ballad "Old Folks" and another favorite, "I'll Be Around." All of the other songs also come from the Great American Songbook, with the possible exception of the lesser-known "It's All in the Game," though it serves as more of a brief detour to start a medley with Jerome Kern's timeless "Yesterdays." This solo outing ranks with any of the earlier Virtuoso series or solo live concerts that Pass recorded for Pablo during his long tenure with the label; fans of jazz guitar should consider this release an essential acquisition.

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