Joe Pass

Artist Playlists

About Joe Pass

One of America’s most original and influential jazz guitarists, Joe Pass played with loads of legendary artists, but he’s best known as an innovative solo stylist. Born in New Jersey in 1929, Pass began performing early, but substance abuse dominated his youth, and his career didn’t really start taking off until the ’60s, when he finally started releasing records. In the ’70s, he achieved his greatest acclaim on multiple fronts. His 1973 album Virtuoso was hailed as a jazz milestone—Pass played unaccompanied in a masterful style, incorporating complex rhythmic and harmonic shifts that made it sound as if multiple musicians were playing. That same year, he began recording in a now-legendary trio with pianist Oscar Peterson and bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. And in 1974, he released the first in a celebrated string of duo albums with Ella Fitzgerald. Pass kept working into the ’90s, playing with Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, and other icons until his death in 1994.

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