36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2002
Did Joe Pass ever miss a note? Did Zoot Sims ever stop swinging?Zoot on the sax, Joe on the guitar--the result is one of those recordings that you just have to keep, even if you periodically go through your collection and weed out some of cd's that,well, don't get too much action, too much air time in your house. Some were constantly played when you got them, but, after a while, don't have the immediacy of new purchases or the timelessness of classic recordings.
Two for the Blues is a keeper. A simple concept--two artists feeding off one another's genius--yields wondrous results, and each new playing allows you to find something new to delight in. Pass, of course, with his Virtuoso recordings, made it clear that the guitar was as capable as any instrument of creating true jazz, so it isn't surprising to hear his solos on many of the cuts--Zoot sits down and turns the studio over to Pass.
At other times, they accompany each other, one moving to the background while the other takes the lead. Zoot swings,while Pass comps in the backseat; Pass plucks out some of those crystal lines of his, while Zoot meanders through the melody. Each is respectful of the other, generous with the other, but nothing here is formal or stilted. The tunes just flow.
Listen to Pennies from Heaven, all 7:39 of it. It doesn't seem that this melody would fit on a recording called Blues for Two, but these guys recreate this chestnut. The melody line is distinct in the first thirty or so seconds, and in the final thirty or so seconds. In between, you have about six minutes of improvising, staking out new territory, taking chances. Sims and Pass. Pass and Sims. As equals, or each taking the lead for a while--these guys turn Pennies From Heaven into a quietly swinging, sometimes meditative, but never predictable jazz piece.
Recently, tenorman Scott Hamilton and legendary guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli released a tribute cd to Zoot entitled The Red Door. The more one listens to it, the more it seems that this newer cd is actually a tribute to both Sims and Pass, and the yeoman-like work they do on Blues for Two.
Concord Records, in the eighties and nineties, launched a wonderful duo series, featuring artists such as Ed Bickert and Bill Mays, Dave McKenna and Gray Sargent, Bill Charlap and Michael Moore, Howard Alden and Ken Peplowski. Concord seemed aware of the intimacy and creativity that very special duos can create. Look into the series before all the recordings go out of print.
But...first, get the real deal--Zoot and Joe, endlessly and timelessly swinging in musical and spiritual harmony
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2000
If you like traditional jazz played in a small ensemble setting you'll probably like this recording. The quality on this CD is very good. It sounds as if it were recorded live in the studio, and the interaction between players seems to indicate this. Joe Pass provides first-class accompanying (as usual). Zoot Sims plays well here. His soprano work on "Pennies From Heaven" is some of his best recorded work. He has a melodic style of playing and swinging that speaks for itself. It's "real cool". Definately a great jazz master. One of my favorite recordings.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2007
By the time that Blues for Two had been recorded, Joe Pass had made a reputation as an outstanding solo guitarist (Virtuoso) and accompanist of Ella Fitzgerald. This is a rare opportunity for him to interact with the swinging, melodic and inventive Zoot Sims. While Pass indicates in the liner notes that he isn't much of a "four-to-the-bar" accompanist, in truth he is fantastic here, playing around, under and with Zoot as well as spinning his own stories when it's his turn to solo.
The slower-tempo'd songs (Dindi, Forgot to Remember, for example) are beautiful, sensuous examples that real jazz can be musical and inventive at the same time. This is a must-have.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2001
The communication between these two performers is at the very highest level. Indeed, I usually play this for people and scream "this is what is meant by musical communication". Aside from the technical brilliance and flawless execution of the playing, this is flat-out one of the all time laid-back, mellow-swinging sessions ever produced. Every piece achieves an utterly smooth flow. Think of the hypnotic modal aura behind Kind of Blue, the singular brilliance behind Coltrane's My Favorite Things or the complex moody lyricism behind a Wayne Shorter arrangement -- this stuff gives us a comprehensive view of a particular kind of musical language and it creates whole new emotional environments. Similarly with Blues For Two, which provides an answer to the following question: just how far can a duo format go in terms of sheer rhythmic beauty?
on December 18, 2012
I am a fan of duo jazz situations where the guitar is involved. Pass & JJ Johnson; Rob McConnell & Ed Bickert. Now Sims & Pass.
Zoot is one of the most underrated tenor players in jazz. Herb Ellis, who I studied with at the U. of North Texas after Chuck Wayne died, told me that if he had to pick one jazz guitarist who was the best in the world, it would be Joe Pass(there is no greatest, all the famous ones just have their own voice.)
Now, as far as this album is concerned, don't get the idea that all the tunes are blues, because they're not. The first tune is a 12 bar blues, called "Blues for Two."
How do you describe a jazz tune. You can talk about interplay (point-counterpoint); technique; tempo, but these are meaningless concepts in jazz that don't really tell you much.
I'll mention some of the tunes I know you'll enjoy: "Dindi," a Brzilian tune with that Latin-American flavour; "Pennies from Heaven;" "I hadn't anyone till you;"...eight tunes in all.
on March 5, 2008
One of the first Vinyl records I owned, glad to have it on CD,
Zoot plays great both on teno and soprano with his usual big honest saxophone sound. Pass is a band on his own, providing perfect tasteful chords and playing bass lines at the same time.
The record sounds very clear with no additional reverb or any studio tricks, It's like having these two masters in your room playing for you, right in front of you.
on March 7, 2010
Quite a combo these two....guitar jazz and sax, what more can I say. I like to listen to Zoot play solo, however, these recordings bring a song to mind that is so reminiscent of an earlier time when people went out to listen to jazz live the way they went out to hear Sinatra and the Rat Pack. Good listening pleasure.