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  1. #1

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    Just discovered Spotify Premium (how long has that taken me??)

    one of the first revelations is that I've discovered loads of early Joe Pass - he's playing mostly with a pick and mostly with a band.

    there's what seems to be a new compilation album around called 'deep dive' - it is full of the most incredible jazz guitar blowing

    it is re-arranging my jazz-guitar geography rather powerfully

    I've just been listening to KB's 'blue lights' (from '58) - and I thought an interesting way to talk about what is special about Joe Pass' blowing (NOT the stuff he's most famous for - where he pretends to be a piano or an orchestra and uses his fingers) might be to compare it to KB's blowing.

    I've listened to more KB stretching out than JP - but I have to say after a few times through 'deep dive' I think I'm coming to the conclusion that I prefer JP's conception and execution (if not his sound).

    I hear so much Parker in JP - but I don't want to pre-judge the discussion.

    (I'm very much hoping this is not the sort of topic that is going to set people off....still there's an easy solution if it does)

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  3. #2

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    Well the first jazz guitar record I bought was Joe Pass ‘Catch Me’, and the first solo I transcribed was Just Friends, from that record. I got a ton of great bebop ideas from that one solo, which probably still surface in my playing sometimes.

    I did not hear his solo guitar stuff until a few years later. So I really dig Joe’s early stuff.

    I like Kenny Burrell too, but he is more of a laid-back bluesy kind of player. I love his trio playing, the way he integrates his solos with chords to fill out the sound. I learned his solo intro to ‘Old Folks’ once, got a lot of cool chord-melody stuff from that.

    Joe Pass was definitely much more of a bebopper. He said it was hearing a Parker track (Visa I think) that really got him inspired with bebop.

    I saw both of them at Ronnie Scotts. Both were equally great live, in their own way. Joe did all the amazing solo stuff which was a wonderful experience to see live in a small club. Kenny created a great ‘late-night’ atmosphere and groove and had the best live jazz guitar sound I have ever heard. Also he got out his nylon-string guitar and played something from the Guitar Forms album, as a special request. I think it was ‘Last Night When We Were Young’. That was really wonderful to hear live. I recall he had to hand out charts to his trio for this arrangement, because he said they very rarely played it.

    I spoke to Kenny on the way out and shook hands with him. And I once chatted with Joe in the bar there and he bought me a drink! So I was very lucky to see and meet two of my favourite guitarists.

    Really I like them both, for different reasons.

  4. #3

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    Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal subscriptions are a goldmine for us. One of the best thing, what happened in my musical life.

  5. #4

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    I absolutely love Burrell's time feel and phrasing. Even when playing more challenging material, there's always an innate bluesiness that is just right for me. Something about his phrasing make me think of Dexter Gordon. There's a real voice there.

    Pass is the consumate bopper, a virtuoso either in a band setting or on his own. I'd be hard pressed to name anyone who did chord melody as musically as Pass.

    I'm glad they both left us their legacy.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Well the first jazz guitar record I bought was Joe Pass ‘Catch Me’, and the first solo I transcribed was Just Friends, from that record. I got a ton of great bebop ideas from that one solo, which probably still surface in my playing sometimes.

    I did not hear his solo guitar stuff until a few years later. So I really dig Joe’s early stuff.

    I like Kenny Burrell too, but he is more of a laid-back bluesy kind of player. I love his trio playing, the way he integrates his solos with chords to fill out the sound. I learned his solo intro to ‘Old Folks’ once, got a lot of cool chord-melody stuff from that.

    Joe Pass was definitely much more of a bebopper. He said it was hearing a Parker track (Visa I think) that really got him inspired with bebop.

    I saw both of them at Ronnie Scotts. Both were equally great live, in their own way. Joe did all the amazing solo stuff which was a wonderful experience to see live in a small club. Kenny created a great ‘late-night’ atmosphere and groove and had the best live jazz guitar sound I have ever heard. Also he got out his nylon-string guitar and played something from the Guitar Forms album, as a special request. I think it was ‘Last Night When We Were Young’. That was really wonderful to hear live. I recall he had to hand out charts to his trio for this arrangement, because he said they very rarely played it.

    I spoke to Kenny on the way out and shook hands with him. And I once chatted with Joe in the bar there and he bought me a drink! So I was very lucky to see and meet two of my favourite guitarists.

    Really I like them both, for different reasons.
    Fantastic story, thanks for dharing that. Painted a nice picture....a time capsule

  7. #6

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    I can’t recall much of my talk with Joe (I was rather drunk at the time - long story!) but I do remember I asked him why he could never remember which tunes he had started the set with. He used to play 2 or 3 tunes in a row to start, then he would stop and back-announce the tunes to the audience. But he could never remember the first one! He said it was because his concentration level was always focussed 110% on the tune he was playing at that moment. Whatever he had played before that was totally gone and forgotten, for him.

    I also remember he seemed really tired, and said he did not feel like going back on stage for his second set. But of course he went on and played a superb set anyway. It gave me a glimpse into what it takes to do what he did, night after night.

  8. #7

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    well I'm so glad I asked - lots of really interesting stuff....

    you have been lucky graham to hear both these guys in small club settings

    I go along with the general drift of opinion here - very much so.

    the 'catch me' album is crazy - what I love most, I think, about JP is very evident. it's that he is so articulate - what he 'says' is so interesting and cool and joined-up: you can follow everything and he has a lot of cool stuff to 'say'.

    thank goodness - it seems to me - that he started using different gear after that first album. I really can't get into his sound - however much I like what he's saying.

    I'm not surprised to hear from Graham that KB got the best live sound he's ever heard and that he played with a consistently fabulous bluesy feel. it is KB's sound and feel that gets me most. not that what he has to say isn't great - but still, its the way he says it and how it sounds that gets me.

    in my first fervent couple of years of practicing and playing they were the two biggest influences on me. I studied using JP's teaching video - and I listened endlessly to The Sermon (KB on guitar).

    on that video his teaching pitch is that you need to be able - at least for practice - to be able to play straight eighths through all the changes. he represents this as the way to avoid playing 'just with your fingers' - and playing riffs - and to make sure that you have to come up with stuff.

    this was thirty years ago. I'm still torn about this bit of advice. Sometimes I think the continuity of thought in JP is the best thing and the thing I want to emulate most - other times I think it can make even JP sound a bit unmusical - a bit typewriter-ish or machine-gun-ish. KB never risks letting that happen.

  9. #8

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    Yes it’s interesting, I think Joe and Kenny were both big influences on me (along with Wes). I probably tried to emulate the continuous 8th-note thing from Joe, but I also picked up the idea of shorter, bluesy phrasing from Wes and Kenny. So I think I ended up with a mix of both approaches, which is probably quite a good way to go.

    I certainly tried to aim for a sound more like Kenny’s.

  10. #9

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    I remember I saw Kenny one other time, he was in this Philip Morris-sponsored ‘superband’ or something, with Frank Foster, Jimmy Smith and Grady Tate.

    At one point Jimmy Smith started showboating to the audience, he was going nuts on the organ and pulled out a handkerchief to mop his ‘fevered brow’, then he started whipping the keyboard with it and playing these weird chromatic chords! It was pretty amazing actually, he was playing like a man possessed. I suspect the handkerchief might have had weights in it or something, I guess he had the whole routine prepared.

    Anyway Kenny was standing there, trying to keep comping and laughing like mad, it obviously amused him greatly.

  11. #10

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    From 1983 to about 1990, I set the guitar aside my main pursuit, and became a producer/manager of jazz. As a young player I had met Wes and hung out with him a little in Boston, as well as Jim Hall, Barney Kessel, who became something of a mentor, and many of the top-tier players, mostly guitarists, but also Ray Brown, George Mraz, StanGetz, Jack Sheldon, Buddy Rich, etc. As I began producing concerts and booking jazz clubs I got to hire my favorites and as a result, picked them up at the airport, took them to radio interviews, oversaw sound-check, got them amps or drums or keyboards, and got to know them better. My first production had been in the mid-70s, when Herb and Barney were very busy as a duo, and I presented them in a workshop on a Saturday afternoon at a club north of Boston called Sandy's Jazz Revival. It was a great experience, and I spent a fair amount of time with them and, as mentioned, became tight with Barney, who was a deep and curious philosopher, and very helpful to me in figuring out what I was to do. Joe Pass was coming to Boston fairly often, and I would hang out with him after shows at the Jazz Workshop, taking a lesson in his hotel room at 2am, lasting until sunrise, when I would give him a ride down to Boston's "combat zone", where he was "looking for some entertainment". He was a funny, fractious, down-to-earth guy, and we had some hilarious times. Burrell was very stately and serious, not without humor, but more gracious and smooth than many of the jazzers I met, and it was one of his club performances that showed me that I could pursue classical and jazz guitar simultaneously, which I have done since then. Barney and Jim were bigger influences on me than I knew until later, when various older pros I was working with would mention one or the other as influences they heard in my playing. My lessons with Joe were very informal, and I still have some of his language in my playing, but it wasn't as obvious as other influences. It was a great time to be in the middle of the jazz scene, most likely never to happen again. I played weddings with Gabor Szabo and Bill Frisell, parties with Dave McKenna and Dick Johnson, and at one point, John Abercrombie was my bassist! I truly hope we emerge from this strange pandemic and can get back to the social aspects of playing music together regularly. It is important.

  12. #11

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    I think the straight eighths practice is for building competency. You can always subtract. You can always play motivically (is that a word?).

    But if all you practice is short ideas, what will happen when it's time to burn through changes?

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    I remember I saw Kenny one other time, he was in this Philip Morris-sponsored ‘superband’ or something, with Frank Foster, Jimmy Smith and Grady Tate.

    At one point Jimmy Smith started showboating to the audience, he was going nuts on the organ and pulled out a handkerchief to mop his ‘fevered brow’, then he started whipping the keyboard with it and playing these weird chromatic chords! It was pretty amazing actually, he was playing like a man possessed. I suspect the handkerchief might have had weights in it or something, I guess he had the whole routine prepared.

    Anyway Kenny was standing there, trying to keep comping and laughing like mad, it obviously amused him greatly.
    What a great image that is! Would have loved to have been there!

    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz
    From 1983 to about 1990, I set the guitar aside my main pursuit, and became a producer/manager of jazz. As a young player I had met Wes and hung out with him a little in Boston, as well as Jim Hall, Barney Kessel, who became something of a mentor, and many of the top-tier players, mostly guitarists, but also Ray Brown, George Mraz, StanGetz, Jack Sheldon, Buddy Rich, etc. As I began producing concerts and booking jazz clubs I got to hire my favorites and as a result, picked them up at the airport, took them to radio interviews, oversaw sound-check, got them amps or drums or keyboards, and got to know them better. My first production had been in the mid-70s, when Herb and Barney were very busy as a duo, and I presented them in a workshop on a Saturday afternoon at a club north of Boston called Sandy's Jazz Revival. It was a great experience, and I spent a fair amount of time with them and, as mentioned, became tight with Barney, who was a deep and curious philosopher, and very helpful to me in figuring out what I was to do. Joe Pass was coming to Boston fairly often, and I would hang out with him after shows at the Jazz Workshop, taking a lesson in his hotel room at 2am, lasting until sunrise, when I would give him a ride down to Boston's "combat zone", where he was "looking for some entertainment". He was a funny, fractious, down-to-earth guy, and we had some hilarious times. Burrell was very stately and serious, not without humor, but more gracious and smooth than many of the jazzers I met, and it was one of his club performances that showed me that I could pursue classical and jazz guitar simultaneously, which I have done since then. Barney and Jim were bigger influences on me than I knew until later, when various older pros I was working with would mention one or the other as influences they heard in my playing. My lessons with Joe were very informal, and I still have some of his language in my playing, but it wasn't as obvious as other influences. It was a great time to be in the middle of the jazz scene, most likely never to happen again. I played weddings with Gabor Szabo and Bill Frisell, parties with Dave McKenna and Dick Johnson, and at one point, John Abercrombie was my bassist! I truly hope we emerge from this strange pandemic and can get back to the social aspects of playing music together regularly. It is important.
    Wow you lucky duck. I am envious!

    I would have a hard time picking up a guitar with any of these people in the room. "I'm not worthy!"

    Unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of seeing so many of the jazz guitar icons, though I have seen Metheny, Scofield, Dimeola, McLaughlin, and Stern--never met them personally though.

    I agree with you on 2 points: that scene will never happen again, and it will be good to emerge form the pandemic and be able to play together for people.