This site celebrates Joe Pass. AllMusic does its usual nice job of profiling the great and iconic The jazz guitarist:
Joe Pass did the near-impossible. He was able to play up-tempo versions of bop tunes such as “Cherokee” and “How High the Moon” unaccompanied on the guitar. Unlike Stanley Jordan, Pass used conventional (but superb) technique, and his Virtuoso series on Pablo still sounds remarkable decades later.
Joe Pass had a false start in his career. He played in a few swing bands (including Tony Pastor’s) before graduating from high school, and was with Charlie Barnet for a time in 1947. But after serving in the military, Pass became a drug addict, serving time in prison and essentially wasting a decade. He emerged in 1962 with a record cut at Synanon, made a bit of a stir with his For Django set, recorded several other albums for Pacific Jazz and World Pacific, and performed with Gerald Wilson, Les McCann, George Shearing, and Benny Goodman (1973). (Continue Reading…)
A list of Duke Ellington songs is like a list of those from the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Bob Dylan and a few others. The song are so familiar and deeply connected to the culture that in a way they don’t even belong to the artist any longer. They are part of the bigger soundtrack.
The above version of Perdido features three famous pianists. There is Ellington in front, and Billy Taylor, who passed away in late 2010, in the back.
In the middle with the cigar is Willie “The Lion” Smith, a legendary stride piano player and mentor to Ellington. Smith was different. In an affectionate post jazz critic Nat Hentoff quotes Smith through pianist Spike Wilner:
…”A lot of people are unable to understand my wanting to be Jewish. One said to me, ‘ Lion, you stepped up to the plate with one strike against you and now you take a second one right down the middle! They can’t seem to realize I have a Jewish soul and belong to that faith.” (Editor’s note: In his 1965 autobiography, Music On My Mind, Smith also states that his birth father, Frank Bertholoff, was Jewish.)
Here is some vintage Ellington. He performs Take the A Train beautifully in a small group setting. Others standards are C Jam Blues, Mood Indigo, It Don’t Mean a Thing and Satin Doll. No posting concerning Ellington would be complete without mention of his alter ego, Billy Strayhorn, who wrote Take the A Train. Here he plays and sings Lush Life.