Joe Pass

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Joe Pass

Post by CGC » Sat Aug 19, 2006 4:22 pm

I've been a big fan of Joe Pass for several years. Are there any transcriptions in notation that are note for note including chords ?
Thanks for the help. :D


Post by theJazzer » Sat Aug 19, 2006 5:35 pm

Simply put YES, Melbay do quite a lot and there is one called "Note by Note" which is a collection pieces by Joe Pass but thre are many others.


Post by RJay » Sat Aug 26, 2006 4:46 pm

Yes there are many joe Pass transcriptions but you do realize that joe didn't play a classical guitar and you will find that most of his music is only well suited to an electric or steel string acoustic guitar.


Post by theJazzer » Sat Aug 26, 2006 5:12 pm

I've got to disagree. Toward the end of his life Joe Pass played solo a lot and used his fingers to play melody chord and bass line. He also sat with the guitar (on a strap) across his body in the same manner as classical guitarists to enable his right hand to access the strings better and to accomodate a more comfortable and practical left hand.

Joe pass took a standard jazz tune or his own composition and arranged it for Jazz guitar using many principals that any polyphonic solo instrument might use such as counterpoint, self accompaniament and so on.

He made use of standard harmonic prinicipals as well as many alternative ideas that were developed by Jazz musicians such as tritone substitution, modalism and polytonality that are now being picked up by Classical composers such as Leo Brouwer and Mark Anthony Turnage.

I know exactly what you are looking for in terms of his music. He produced several solo guitar albums called "Virtuoso", I think there are 3 in total and they were done in (guessing) early 70s and over the next two decades he developed this technique, later to be picked up by Martin Taylor and Tuck Andress et al. Martin Taylor has produced an interesting book where he shows you how to take a standard melody and reharmonise it and add bass lines and interesting rhythmic effects. Played on a classical guitar these pieces would not sound too disimilar to a contemporary classical piece.

If you want some challenging stuff along similar lines look at John Duarte, he has arranged a handful of jazz tunes for solo classical guitar and many of his pieces have a jazz influence. He was a jazz guitarist early in his career apparently. Also Ralph Towner, a jazz guitarist now only makes use of acoustic (mostly classical) guitar and his pieces include complex harmonic and rhythmic devices similar to Brouwer. Badi Assad has performed his pieces (She is a Brazilian multi styled guitarist) and of course Brouwer himself pays his homage to Jazz in his piece "Variations on a theme by Django Reinhardt" (title may be innaccurate).

I also have a suite of pieces by Pierre Lerich, Tombeau de Luys Milan which is a crafty fusion of early rennaisance and harmony derived from jazz.

I think you'll find that the high level of musicianship that most top jazz musicians attain (usually through self development) means that they are being taken seriously by the classical world. Keith Jarret, Bobby Mcferrin and the guy with the trumpet whose name eludes me right now are just several names whose technical achievements have led them into the world of classical performance while Mark Anthony Turnage has written (Avant Garde Classical) music specifically for Jazz musicians such as John Scofield and Peter Erskine.

Want more proof just look at the ECM catalogue for a start.

Gosh I do go on.

Back to Joe Pass. No, not classically trained, but an innovator who is to Jazz guitar what Tarrega was to the classical. Overlook him at your peril.


Post by RJay » Sat Aug 26, 2006 5:51 pm

Hey Jazzer,

Great post! You start out saying you disagree but I think you are just looking from a different angle.

I practice both jazz and classical (as a hobby) and see them as worlds colliding, mixing and merging. I love both and am encouraged when they overlap. That said I still think classical music is played on a Classical guitar and jazz and modern music is MOSTLY played on electric and steel guitars. Not much of John Scofield would be playable on a CG. The bulk of Martin Taylor, Tuck and Ralph Towner are on steel/electric as I am sure you know.

I do think we are both saying the same thing. Oh, and I too love Joe Pass.


Post by theJazzer » Sat Aug 26, 2006 6:06 pm


I may have mistaken your suggestion as negativity initially as there are many traditionalists on here who only seem to have a very narrow perspective and hate to see too much change. Of course they are very entitled to their opinions and I respect them for it but I see you are a Jazz fan also.

I just like to keep an open mind. One thing I love about the Classical guitar is the expansiveness of tone. Although not a loud instrument it has a wide emotional and expressive range of tones that I believe make it perfect for Jazz and I don't mean Charlie Byrd style who I don't like very much.

Almost all other instruments in Jazz are exactly like their classical cousins from Piano to Calrinet so why not the guitar, afterall it's seen enough development and has reached a level of perfection in its own right.

Well the main reason was the volume, it couldn't compete with everything else on equal terms and it was only when pickups and amps came along that the guitar found its voice in Jazz. With the state of modern mics and studio recording I don't see why the classical can't catch up.

Scofield made an album called "Quiet" with a classical guitar and Sylvan Luc plays a Nylon string instrument (Godin) and his tone is wonderful. He also uses a fretless and a steel string. Pat Metheny also makes good use of a Nylon stringed instrument from time to time.

If you haven't checked out Ralph Towner yet, try "Ana" and "Anthem" ECM records, they are stunningly haunting and beautiful.

I do own a hand carved arch top by Hofner. It was made in about 2002/3 and while it is not the worlds best instrument it does have a wonderful (acoustic) sound which in my opinion surpasses the sound of Joe Pass's ES175 and his later Epiphone both of which had laminated tops and sound weak acoustically, though good when amped.

Tone is very important to me which is one of the reasons I like to experiment crossing instruments, playing classical on a steel string, Jazz on a Nylon string etc. It's just experimentation.


Post by RJay » Sat Aug 26, 2006 6:49 pm


Thank you for your recommendations on the Scofield and Towner and I do hope the Forum Mods won't shut down this thread for our blasphamous hopes for open mindedness. There are no bounds around music - or art for that matter.

I can't post more now but I look forward to revisiting and discussing this further.


Post by btb » Sat Aug 26, 2006 8:27 pm

theJazzer wrote:I know exactly what you are looking for in terms of his music. He produced several solo guitar albums called "Virtuoso", I think there are 3 in total and they were done in (guessing) early 70s
Hi Jazzer - The Virtuoso albums are amazing. I've always thought those songs would sound just great on a nylon string but geez you gotta be a technical virtuoso to play that stuff :shock:

I can listen to Joe Pass all day tho, a true genius and innovator.


Post by CGC » Sat Aug 26, 2006 8:27 pm

Wow! Thanks for all the feedback. I will have to check out Ralph Towner too. I saw William Keningiser from L.A.G.Q. once and he played a half classical half jazz program for his concert. He used a classical guitar throughout. This was one of the best solo concerts I've been to. :D

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Post by sheftzus » Sun Aug 27, 2006 4:03 am

RJay wrote: That said I still think classical music is played on a Classical guitar and jazz and modern music is MOSTLY played on electric and steel guitars. .
In my opinion Jazz is a musical style in which mostly any kind of medium can fit. The medium used depends on the player.


Post by JohnRoss » Sun Aug 27, 2006 6:01 pm

That said I still think classical music is played on a Classical guitar
Just goes to show how irrelevant "modern" classical (in the sense of serious) music has become.
...and jazz and modern music is MOSTLY played on electric and steel guitars.
Laurindo Almeida, Charlie Byrd... not many names, admittedly, but big ones.


Post by thrip » Sun Aug 27, 2006 9:53 pm

Joe Pass plays a nylon strung guitar on his "I Remember Charlie Parker" album - and it's great.

I second the recommendation for Ralph Towner - his playing is stunning.


Post by RJay » Mon Aug 28, 2006 7:22 pm


That's very interesting. I have not heard of that album but I'll look for it. It seems a very odd combination as I can't imagine much of Charlie Parker's music being performed on a classical guitar and not having heard this I don't understand why he would choose the Classical guitar for this. What is your thoughts on this or are you goofin'?


Post by theJazzer » Mon Aug 28, 2006 7:38 pm

It's true to say that certain aspects of speed and articluation (slides, bends and electric string artifacts) are not quite the same on a nylon string instrument but I think its tone and acoustic nature should make it a natural.

By electric string artifacts, I mean the pops and clicks that can be produced (intentionally) by attacking the string in a different way with the pick.


Post by BrodiePierce_81 » Thu Aug 31, 2006 7:26 pm

I have one thing to say.. Pick up a copy of Earl Klughs' "Naked Guitar".. Then talk about what jazz played on a classical guitar is all about.

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