Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
True to the title of one of his albums, Joe Pass is a virtuoso - a master who until a few years ago was a Hollywood studio guitarist known only to musicians and a relatively small number of fans. Now, though prolific recordings for Norman Granz's Pablo label, Pass has become one of the best-known jazz artists on his instrument.
For his engagement this week at Blues Alley, Pass is playing solo, by far the most challenging setting for a guitarist. Assuredly, he has the necessary technical gifts: a glowing electric sound, extensive knowledge of chords, rhythmic sureness and the facility to play just about any idea he chooses.
Pass also has a kaleidoscopic repertoire, including standards ("Summertime" and "The Song is you"), jazz pieces ("L'il Darlin'" and "500 Miles High") and current favorites ("You Are the Sunshine of My Life'" and "This Masquerade").
Combining these assets with a witty banstand manner, Pass is well-equipped to meet his self-imposed challenge. The only fault one can find with his playing is his occasional stiffness on tunes with Latin or rock underpinings. This is a minor criticism, though, and certainly does not detract form Pass's formidable reputation.