Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ROW: Joe Pass & Niels-Henning Ørsed Pedersen - Chops (Pablo)

Shorthand I use more than I should, it’s still one that succinctly encapsulates a musician’s skill comparative to his or her peers. A person would be hard-pressed to find a guitarist and bassist with more conventional chops than the pairing on this particular Pablo disc. Pass and Pedersen were so formidable on their respective axes that critics used it as slight to suggest repeated cases of flash sacrificing substance. That charge is certainly arguable, but this set summarily torpedoes it in my opinion. Setting up shop in a London studio in the winter of ‘78, the dynamic duo stride, glide and spar through ten tracks, all standards save for the improvised “5 pound Blues”. Blue plate bop specials “Oleo” and “Yardbird Suite” find them chasing each other’s tails with split-second reversals and having a ball. The ballads “Have You Met Miss Jones”, “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” and “In Your Own Sweet Way” dial back the daring displays of dexterity for more contemplative stripe of communion. Pedersen’s strings exude that fat, viscous amplification that was a Pablo staple of the era and the two are frequently the aural equivalent of Laurel and Hardy in terms of relative tonal girth. Both men participated in their fair share of phone-it-in sessions where partners weren’t up to par and they were free to coast. This certainly isn’t one of them.

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