My Dinner with Joe
J. Brantley | Pennsylvania | 08/10/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When I popped in this DVD, I had no inkling that it was, in large part, an instructional video. Now you know. It's not quite "An Evening with Joe Pass" in the sense of "My Dinner with Andre," but it is certainly not the concert video that one might expect from the title.
This DVD takes way too much time to deliver the goods, whether one expects recital or lesson. The scenes of Joe setting up for rehearsals would not be all that bad, except for the editor's penchant for trying to "jazz up" the proceedings by, paradoxically, cutting out much of the jazz. I thought if I heard one more brilliant solo snipped off just as it began to heat up, I might personally go to the editor's house for a "talk." That, coupled with an inexplicable tendency to show Pass in black/white and in slow-mo while he played, made for a rough start.
The nature of the video became clearer to me when the interview began. Joe sits down for a few minutes after rehearsal with some Guitar Institute pedagogue. The interview was relatively uneventful and not particularly insightful. It was basically a short, live version of the average "Downbeat" or "Jazziz" coverage. Certainly not worth taking up valuable time during which we could be listening to some actual GUITAR MUSIC!
As the concert itself finally began, my heart melted a bit. Joe shows himself to deserve his mantles of "genius," "virtuoso," etc. on even the most familiar tunes. If you don't really feel a need to hear "Satin Doll" or "Stella by Starlight" again, Pass will prove you wrong. He is a master of the "fill," those flourishes and colors that link the individual phrases and notes of a melody. He makes tunes his own, without coming off as flashy or overly busy.
Guitar players will enjoy the intimacy of the videography: tight shots, well-lit, with the fingers in full view. It might not make for an exciting documentary, however, for fellow viewers not drooling over the licks. So get `em a magazine or something.
Later in the video the music is interrupted yet again for audience Q&A. These questions are slightly more interesting than the earlier interviewer, but only for those who are versed in the language of music theory. Talk of 9ths, dominants, II-V, and the like, will lose some viewers (even some musicians.) Watching JP demonstrate his answers on the guitar is enough to make this section worth watching, even if you don't get all the lingo.
I hope that there are other available Pass videos with more music. The concert footage here was just enough to leave me hungry for a whole video shot with the intimacy seen here.
Nice Video of a Jazz Guitar Master
David A. Kaplowitz | Havertown, PA USA | 04/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a guitarist watching this video I can't help but feel admiration for what a skilled player Joe Pass is. His harmonic knowledge is incredible and at some 65 years old (in this vid) his playing (on a customized Gibson ES175-ish guitar) is always musical and interesting. There's a fair amount of straight ahead playing, but as the previous reviewer mentioned, there are some breaks in the continuity, so I wouldn't think of this as a straight ahead performance video, nor is it a complete guitar seminar. That's why I only gave it 4 stars.
As a musician and a guitar player I found many of the questions asked pretty basic and unimaginative (C-A-G-E-D pattern, etc.), but Joe actually answered all of them with respect and seriousness and wound up covering a pretty broad overview of how he approaches playing. I actually did like some of the buildup to the actual playing. You get to see Joe go over the set before the gig with bassist Bob Magnusson and drummer Joe Porcaro. You get to see his approach to equipment --which is pretty much "show up with a guitar and half a pick". ;)
I didn't realize it before I saw this video but I was actually in the audience for this show/seminar. I was a student at GIT during this time (filmed in 1987-88 ---most likely '88). Being 19 and not knowing jazz that well I didn't get that much out of the show at the time. I remembered so little about it. In fact, I couldn't tell it was the same show I saw until I saw my roommate Enzo Duva's huge afro at one point. Watching it 17 years later, I realize what a treat it was to be there.
The "pedagogue" mentioned in the previous review is actually Don Mock, who's pretty big in the field of guitar education, he's been teaching at GIT since it started, has written a small library of pretty good books, and is involved in just about every instructional video that's ever been made. Don's also a great player in his own right (more of a fusion guy). I agree that Don probably should have had some better questions for Joe, but I guess he was pretty excited too.
There's also a very brief (non-playing) cameo by Joe Diorio, who I've heard called "The Greatest Living Bebop Guitarist".
If you're a guitarist whose also a Joe Pass fan, you'll really love this video. Most other people might have more mixed feelings about it."
Absolute required viewing for jazz guitarists
Joseph A. Skarulis | Valley Stream | 01/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"read all the other great reviews and after you watch it you will agree and understand the philosophy - just order it - dont think twice"
izoftheworld | State College, Pennsylvania United States | 02/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"excellent DVD for any guitar player. Joe's perspective on the instrument is unmatched and should be explored. have fun!!"