This is two discs full of jazz-guitar blowing at its finest, as straightforward as it gets; 16 cuts of John Pisano and various six-string friends playing standards for appreciative crowds.
This project started in the ’70s, when Pisano and Joe Pass started playing at Donte’s, in Hollywood. Partners have come and gone, but Pisano is the constant that holds things together.
The cuts here are from the ’90s, and start with jazz-guitar pioneer George Van Eps doing “I’ll Never Be the Same” and continuing through a Who’s Who of players; Herb Ellis, master of bluesy swing, rolls through “The Blues” and “I Want to Be Happy” with Pisano backing him wonderfully. Although Pisano is known as an accompanist and a rhythm player, his soloing on these cuts (and the rest of the record) take a back seat to no one, proving over and over again that he is a fine soloist.
Many younger members of the traditional jazz-guitar scene show up, and shine. Anthony Wilson uses four cuts to prove why some think he’s the finest of the group. Peter Bernstein plays several cuts and joins Wilson for an amazing version of “Whisper Not” where the two play like they’re joined at the hip. We also hear from Corey Christiansen, Joe Diorio, Pat Kelley, Barry Zweig, and Frank Potenza, all of whom shine. One of the most pleasant surprises is a solo rendering of “When Sunny Gets Blue” by the late, great Ted Greene; it’s a rare treat to hear him in this setting.
Most of the players here are of the traditional bent, but Scott Henderson does a fine take on Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints,” with Pisano handling rhythm.
Hopefully, there is a lot more tape like this in a vault somewhere. It’s a rare treat to hear masters of the instrument in this setting.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.