Traffic Jams: 'Joy Spring' — Joe Pass

Traffic sucks, so why not start your morning off with some music? You provide the toast, we'll provide the jams.

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Aside from cars (and food), my other love is music, specifically jazz. I’m a HUGE jazz head, and I have my parents to thank for that. I loved it so much, I even played the sax as a kid. Now, with Traffic Jams I have a chance to introduce some of my favorite songs of the American art form to you, our readers, like the classic 1964 recording of Joy Spring by Joe Pass.

For those unfamiliar, Joe Pass is often regarded as one of the most influential and greatest jazz guitarists of the 20th century. He was a virtuoso, so much that one of his albums was literally called Virtuoso. His chord solos are the stuff of legends and will make even the best musician throw up their hands in frustration just by looking at the sheet music. The ‘64 recording of Joy Spring is a fantastic example of just how great of a guitarist he was.

This particular song was originally composed by jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown. Along with his friend, drummer Max Roach, and their trio, it was recorded for the 1954 album Clifford Brown & Max Roach. The composition was dedicated to his wife, who he called his “Joy Spring.” Sadly, Brown died in 1956 in a car accident. He was just 25 at the time. Since his death, the song became a signature for Brown. And while it’s been covered many times over the years, none are quite as good as Joe Pass’ rendition.


Pass recorded Joy Spring in 1964 during his Capitol Record years. Every musician on the track is in fine form: Pass on guitar (give his chord run at 3:08 a listen to see just how much of a beast he was on the guitar), Jim Hughart on bass, Colin Bailey on drums, and an equally excellent piano solo by Mike Wofford.

While Pass died in 1994, his legendary playing and ability to improvise will always be a case study for jazz.