Joe Pass was both the apotheosis of the bop guitar tradition and an innovator who perfected a solo style that turned the guitar into a self-sufficient band. One of the latest blooming jazz giants, Pass began recording the albums that set standards for technical fluency well after he turned 40.
Pass became a professional while still in high school, playing in swing bands, including a stint with Tony Pastor. He toured with Charlie Barnet in 1947, but after a tour of duty in the military, drug addiction derailed his career and he didn't return to the scene until the early 1960s.
Settling in Los Angeles, Pass began making a name for himself with a series of recordings for Pacific Jazz, including his first classic album, 1963's For Django. He spent the next decade playing local gigs, performing with Gerald Wilson, Les McCann, and George Shearing, and touring with Benny Goodman in 1973. That was the year Norman Granz signed him to Pablo, and Pass became a guitar legend with the release of Virtuoso, a landmark solo recording that has lost none of its potency over time. During the next two decades, Pass recorded prolifically for Pablo, including sessions with Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie, as well as numerous albums of his own, many of which have been reissued on CD.
Pass remained active recording and performing right up until his death from cancer, including an extensive tour with "Guitar Summit", a band with Paco Pena, Pepe Romero, and Leo Kottke.
Joe Pass forever changed what people thought was possible on a guitar. Using conventional technique, he supplied his own bass lines and played rhythmic chords and a melody line simultaneously.
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