If guitarist Joe Pass were performing solo–the format for which he has received the most attention–you wouldn’t be reading this. Pass’s solo forays have always been notable for their displays of virtuosity, the ambitiousness of the concept, and their novelty. Unfortunately, they often stop swinging halfway through, and they always become repetitive, as the mortal Pass wrestles with the superhuman task of juggling bebop’s complex rhythms and harmonies while attempting to improvise creative melodies. (Rest assured that this viewpoint is considered heretical by stone guitar freaks and those impressed by spectacle.) But Pass is leading a trio this weekend, and that makes all the difference: freed from the parlor-trick exigencies of being a one-man band, he can concentrate on the busy, exacting, and at times impassioned solo style he’s been honing over the last three decades. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have Chicagoans Larry Gray (bass) and Charlie Brougham (drums) as accompanists. They guarantee the strong rhythmic underpinning that brings out Pass’s best work, which resembles a virtual primer on bebop guitar. Tonight through Sunday, Joe Segal’s Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4300.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Paul Natkin–Photo Reserve.