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    Pass, Joe (13 January 1929 – 23 May 1994)

    Guitarist from New Brunswick, New Jersey, who idolized Gene Autry and was mimicking his playing at the age of nine.  Five years later, he would already be playing local gigs, including weddings. 

     

    He went on tour with Tony Pastor’s outfit in 1947, and even performed on a few of their recordings.  Joe also spent some time with Charlie Barnet’s band.  He moved to the Big Apple when he was in his early 20s, but he became addicted to heroin, and it nearly destroyed his career, not to mention his life. 

     

    The 1950s were essentially a blur, including a couple of stints in jail, and Joe wound up in the Synanon rehabilitation center in California.  By 1961, he was feeling well enough to record an album, Sounds of Synanon, with other musical patients, including Arnold Ross. 

     

    Following three years of recovery, it was time to rehabilitate his career.  With the encouragement of Dick Bock, he inked a deal with Pacific Jazz, and released a string of albums, including Catch Me, For Django, Simplicity and 12-String Guitar.  Ironically, in 1963, Down Beat bestowed their New Star Award on him.  Two years later, he was on the road with George Shearing. 

     

    He found safe haven, however, in the recording studio, where he became an invaluable session man.  Some of the artists he worked with included Louis Bellson, Johnny Mathis, Della Reese, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan and Joe Williams.  He also made appearances on The Merv Griffin Show, The Steve Allen Show and The Tonight Show. 

     

    In the ‘70s, he hooked up with Herb Ellis and they played regular gigs at Donte’s in L.A.  With Ray Brown and Jake Hanna, they recorded the inaugural release for the newly-formed Concord Jazz, fittingly titled Jazz/Concord. 

     

    He also did a turn as an author, releasing a string of guitar instruction books, including Joe Pass Guitar Style, which has become a classroom staple.

     

    When Oscar Peterson decided to re-form The Oscar Peterson Trio, he recruited Joe and Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen.  They appeared on 1971’s In Tune, with The Singers Unlimited. 

     

    Joe recorded a solo album, Virtuoso, in 1973:  He also appeared on Ella Fitzgerald’s Take Love Easy.  In 1974, the trio released—well, The Trio—and it won a Grammy for Best Jazz Performance by a Group.  He re-united with Ella on Easy Living, Fitzgerald and Pass… Again and Speak Love.  His last CD was Roy Clark & Joe Pass Play Hank Williams. 

     

    Joe passed away from cancer of the liver on 23rd May 1994 in Los Angeles, California. 

     

    He is regarded as one of the pioneers of the jazz guitar, expanding its possibilities with complex harmonies, dizzying tempos and telepathic improvisational skills.

     

    Sources:

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Pass
    2. http://classicjazzguitar.com/artists/artists_page.jsp?artist=55
    3. http://www.jazzguitar.be/joe_pass_licks.html
    4. http://www.amazon.com/Joe-Pass/e/B000AQ2CV4
    5. http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/musician.php?id=10143

     

            

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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