“Joe Pass: The Blue Side of Jazz” is a companion DVD to his
other disc, “Solo Jazz Guitar.” Both discs are from the Hot Licks
series produced by Arlen Roth. Originally issued on VHS in 1991,
“The Blue Side of Jazz” was reissued in 2006, and has a running
time of about an hour. Joe Pass (1929-1994) was one of the true
giants of Jazz guitar. Although he joined Charlie Barnet’s band
in 1947 as a teenager, his real influence in this genre began
when he was in his forties. During his lifetime, Pass played with
such greats as Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington,
Count Basie, and Oscar Peterson, just to name a few.
This disc casts Pass in an unassuming light, as he names and
demonstrates a series of different Jazz chords as they relate
to the Blues, in a wide array of voicings. He emphasizes the
importance of the continuity of voicings while playing these
sophisticated chords, an element of his trademark style. This DVD
is designed for students who have progressed beyond the
cursory knowledge of Jazz guitar chords. As a classically trained
double bassist, I’m probably not his target audience, but it was
nevertheless informative and stimulating to see this Jazz legend
exhibit his skill and knowledge, in an informal setting.
The “Chord Corner” bonus feature included notation of the chords
Pass discussed and demonstrated. Other bonus features on this
disc includes a printed biography and discography, a list of
suggested recordings, different guitar exercises, slow-motion
options, and a tuning menu.
The harmonic sophistication of the music Pass played stood in
bold contrast to the more “Rock oriented” DVDs that I’ve seen
from this series, and gives us a hint as to the wide range of
guitar styles available for aspiring musicians.