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    I am a daily reader of jazz and culture writer Marc Myers's blog JazzWax. A couple of weeks ago, he posted an article about the collaboration between Joe Pass and accordian/Polycorus player (and inventor of Polytone amps) Tommy Gumina. I had never heard of Gumina, but decided to investigate his few projects with Joe Pass a little further. I was fortunate enough to be able to find and purchase a copy of their 1987 LP Sound Project on Discogs for a very reasonable price.

    I sat and listened to it a couple times this evening. This is among the best sonic recordings of Pass I have ever heard. What makes it different from his other recordings? First, he's playing his signature Ibanez, not his 175. Secondly, Gumina was a real pioneer of guitar amp technology and Pass trusted Gumina enough to let him "shape" his guitar sound a bit. Pass says on the album cover, "The guitar was recorded in way that gave it a rich, new quality (at least for me) and allowed for more expression from the instrument." Gumina says of Pass's guitar sound in his own note on the album cover, "...Polytone amplification was used in bi-amp mode (first developed by Polytone in 1969) utilizing the various harmonic frequencies to create the huge sound for this album." Thirdly, it's obvious that there is both delay (probably tape delay, since it's 1987) and reverb on Pass's guitar sound. Some will like this more modern sound and others will prefer the more traditional and acoustic sounding Pass a la Virtuoso.

    There's one tune from this album that floats around the Internet. The song is About Time by Gumina and Pass. What's downright comical is that half-way through the song Pass kicks on a distortion pedal. It sounds awful (like his neck pick up is plugged into a beehive); but it is so much fun to listen to. You can tell Pass had a ball and knew exactly what he was doing. Here's another quote from Pass's note on the album cover that is quite revealing about his more modern sound on this project:The electric guitar...has come a long way from the Charlie Christian era I grew up in. Today I think most young players are aware of the changes taking place and try to use the technology. So you have the guitar sounds ranging from Pat Metheny to Benson, Klugh, Carlton to Heavy Metal. I've always felt the true guitar sound should be acoustic; the electric guitar and acoustic are really two different instruments. But we live an electronic age and if one is going to use the technology, it behooves a player to at least explore the possibilities without sacrificing his musical integrity.

    Here's a link to Marc Myers's JazzWax post: Joe Pass and Tommy Gumina - JazzWax

    Here's a link to a terrible recording (done with a camera phone, I believe) of About Time. Pass kicks on the distortion pedal at 1:29. One thing the creator of this video does is scan his camera over the album notes.


    If you haven't done so already, it's worth seeking out these recordings....The musicianship, tune choice, and recording are wonderful.
    I never practice my guitar — from time to time I just open the case and throw in a piece of raw meat. - Wes Montgomery
    Gibson ES-335 | Gibson ES-175 | Ibanez LGB-30 | Fender Telecaster | Martin HD-28V

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    That's interesting. Joe said

    'I've always felt the true guitar sound should be acoustic'

    He qualifies it but I wonder what he meant. Classical, nylon strings? He used that quite a lot.