Today In Jazz

Happy Birthday Danny Barker and Joe Pass

January 13

Two great jazz guitarists were born on this day– Danny Barker in 1909 and Joe Pass in 1929. Barker, born in New Orleans, had a career that spanned nearly eight decades. He played with everyone from Baby Dodds to Charlie Parker, and was part of the rhythm section of the Cab Calloway Orchestra in the late 1930s and early 1940s–one of the best of its kind. Barker, who also played banjo and ukulele, was a direct link to the earliest New Orleans musicians, and compiled his recollections of them in his book, My Life in Jazz (with Alyn Shipton). Barker also formed a church brass band in 1970 that became the nationally known Dirty Dozen Brass Band By some accounts, Barker made over 1,000 jazz recordings, more than any other artist. Barker died in 1994.

Joe Pass, born in New Brunswick, NJ, is considered one of the greatest and most influential of all jazz guitarists. However, due to an early drug habit and a lean time for jazz in the late 1960s, his career almost never happened. Norman Granz to the rescue: The trail-blazing producer signed Pass to a contract with his Pablo label, providing a platform for Pass that he wouldn’t relinquish until his death. While Pass is justly renowned for his solo recordings, he also played duets with Ella Fitzgerald, and accompanied such masters as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, Milt Jackson and Dizzy Gillespie. Listen to Pass play Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” from the LP that made him a jazz star, the 1973 Pablo release, Virtuoso: