Joe Pass: The Blue Side of Jazz

Joseph Anthony Passalaqua will always be known as one of the absolute masters of the jazz guitar. Nearly every student of the instrument knows his playing. Joe was the undisputed champion of solo guitar playing and his "Virtuoso" series of recordings are classics of the genre.

This video and it's companion, Solo Jazz Guitar, (also in the Hot Licks series) are classics in the field and it's a good idea to introduce it to folks who are unfamiliar with it. In this video, Joe deals with the Blues in detail. For those of you new to jazz guitar, I'm not referring to Stevie Ray Vaughan here. When jazz musicians refer to the "blues", they're talking about a basic 12-bar song form and its attendant harmonies, not a playing style.

There was no one better at swinging the Blues than Joe. This video proves it. Joe's playing is magical and brilliant, as usual (even though he seems a little off his game here). His chord voicings are based on the most simple shapes but the way he mutates them is original and a must for all jazz guitarists. He goes into great chord-by-chord detail, showing you exactly what he's doing and why. The fingerings are fairly easy to grab and the ideas are accessible.

Although Joe was by no means a trained educator, he was able to explain with some clarity what he was doing. In the end, it doesn't matter as his playing and the enclosed transcription booklet tell you all you need to know. Just sit back, relax and let the sounds enter your ears.

Joe's life was not an easy one and he left us too soon. But his music was filled with joy and an easy charm. This video will infect you with that feeling. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.


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Good jazz is like good coffee: it’s smooth, rich and lingers fragrantly in a room. The best jazz musicians are expert improvisers with years of experience – but you only need to take a few jazz guitar lessons from guitar guru Nick Minnion to play some sensational sounds