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Love Letter To A Record: Bruno Major On Joe Pass’s ‘Virtuoso’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Bruno Major- Joe Pass, ‘Virtuoso’ (1973)

I’ve chosen Joe Pass’s 1973 album Virtuoso. It’s impossible to overestimate how important this album is to my personal musical development.

Over a period of 18 months I would listen to nothing else. I’d wake up, put it on, transcribe it all day, fall asleep with it playing and wake up, and it would still be going the next day. I bought the guitar that he used on it, I had the same strings. I cut my plectrums in half just like he did.

Joe Pass was a heroin addict and a very very good jazz guitar player and he went to rehab and whilst he was in rehab he sat there on his own and figured out this style of playing the guitar that no one had really done before to the same level, playing the bass lines and the guitar, and all the different band members are all just in there in his guitar playing.

A lot of those chord voicings that I learned from him have found their way into my songwriting, into my production and my vocal arrangement. I owe more to him than I do to any other guitarist I would say in terms of my influences.

He played for Oscar Peterson, he played for Ella Fitzgerald but for me, his crowning achievement was his solo jazz guitar albums, particularly this first one.

Magic.

Bruno Major’s second record, ‘To Let A Good Thing Die’, is out now.

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