Thursday, January 2, 2014

Frank Potenza, For Joe

I find a talented straight-ahead jazz guitarist, if he is on the mark that day, to be very compelling. It's not just that I cannot play like that no matter how hard I try. It's a matter of excellent musicianship, which I appreciate on any level whenever I hear it. The guitar and the way it is traditionally tuned lays out so differently than a piano that a good sense of the chording-comping kind of soloing gives guitarists a set of difficulties that are very unique because of course much more than getting the ear for it. Not in the least bit intending to denigrate the piano (it is no easier to play well, it just has different challenges), but getting a huge facility in the comping zone is almost counter-intuitive on the guitar, at least at first.

And when I think of the harmonic sophistication of master guitarists in this aspect, I inevitably think of Joe Pass, along with a very few others. Joe Pass was an ace at this!

Frank Potenza was a Pass student and, when you listen to the album at hand, you can tell he was one who absorbed all that Joe had to offer. It is fully appropriate that Frank do a Pass tribute album (you'll know when you hear it). For Joe (Capri 74127-2) is the result and it will blow you away if you are into this sort of thing like I am.

So we have a perfectly enthralling set at hand here. Frank solos over a rhythm team that includes John Pisano on second guitar, Jim Hughart on acoustic bass and Colin Bailey at the drums. They are a very groovy, swinging bunch and they make Frank sound all the better, not to mention that John is no slouch himself on guitar. This was exact same rhythm team Joe Pass used on his 1964 tribute to Django side, so it makes sense on many levels.

It's all about Frank here, though, and he comes through with single-line, chordal arpeggiated and line-chord solos that make you want to hear more.

This is an album any serious guitarist will dig--and anyone into the jazz zone for that matter.

Frank Potenza!

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