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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Sounds of Synanon

American Jazz Classics 99100



1. C.E.D.

2. Aaron's Song

3. Stay Loose

4. Projections

5. Hang Tough

6. Self-Image

7. Last Call for Coffee

8. Sweatin'

9. Jeannine

10. Minor Surgery

11. This Here

12. It Might as Well be Spring

13. Moose the Mooche

14. Groove's Bag

Joe Pass - Guitar

Arnold Ross - Piano (tracks 1-7)

Dave Allan - Trumpet (tracks 1-7)

Greg Dykes - Baritone horn (tracks 1-7)

Ronald Clark - Bass (tracks 1-7)

Bill Crawford - Drums (tracks 1-7)

Candy Latson - Bongoes (tracks 1-7)

Richard “Groove” Holmes – Organ (tracks 8-14)

Lawrence Marable – Drums (tracks 8-14)

This album was very significant in the career of guitarist Joe Pass. He had been virtually unknown until this recording was released as an LP in 1962. For a long time Joe had been an inmate at the Synanon Drug Center in California, where he began to jam with other musicians similarly resident there for rehabilitation. One of the prominent band members was pianist Arnold Ross, who had made his name playing with the likes of Harry James, Lena Horne and Harry Edison before he booked into Synanon for a cure from his drug habit.

He and Joe Pass were the pre-eminent musicians at Synanon, as you can hear on this album, where Arnold’s simple but solid playing brightens such tracks asAaron’s Song, a slow tune which also features Dave Allan’s furry trumpet, reminiscent of Chet Baker in tone. Ross composed Stay Loose, a gentle swinger which includes delicate solos by Pass and Ross, and Last Call for Coffee, which has a neat blend between Dave Allan’s trumpet and Greg Dykes’ baritone horn as well as an urbane guitar solo from Joe Pass. Ross also co-wrote the opening C.E.D. with Joe Pass, which highlights Joe’s guitar.

Without underestimating the other musicians, one can understand why this album launched Joe Pass into stardom, as his expertise on the guitar is already manifest. Richard Bock, who produced the Synanon album, clearly realised Joe’s potential and proceeded to make more albums with him for Pacific Jazz. The first of these was a trio album with organist Richard “Groove” Holmes and drummer Lawrence Marable. That LP is added here as a bonus. Richard Holmes dominates this album, so Joe Pass doesn’t get all the limelight, although he makes the most of his opportunities – for example, in his swirling solo on Sweatin’ or his finger-pickin’-good outing on Moose the Mooche.

As a fan of Richard “Groove” Holmes’s powerful approach to the Hammond organ, I am happy to hear a lot of him as well, particularly his soulful approach toIt Might as Well be Spring. And just hear the way he uses the pedals to drive along the rhythm of Duke Pearson’s Jeannine and his own Groove’s Bag. The latter track gives Lawrence Marable the chance to add some gutsy drum breaks.

Tony Augarde

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