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Pat Martino


Tom Storer
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After my post wondering about Michael Pedicin, the excellent and previously unknown to me tenor player I saw Monday night with Pat Martino, I looked for a Pat Martino thread and find that he's hardly been talked about at all here.

I'm not a guitaroholic by any means, but Martino is one of my guitar heroes. His mid-70's albums "Consciousness" and "Impressions" blew me away, and I liked his collaboration with Gil Goldstein later in the decade; but then he had his stroke, lost his memory, and spent a decade or so learning to play the guitar all over again. I hadn't listened to much of the "new" Pat Martino but jumped at the chance to see him live, as I had never seen him play before. Lo and behold, the "new" Pat Martino is the old Pat Martino - in other words, simply amazing. With his current band he's playing in much the same style as he did 25 years ago - fiercely swinging soloing in a modern bop or modal context, very lyrical even with his staccato delivery and a sound that is dark in tone but bright in the clarity of his phrasing. His drive and his rigorous concentration give the music a powerful momentum, and his improvisations, which spin out cells of inventive variation seemingly effortlessly, are mesmerizing.

OK, what the hell, I'll come right out and say it: I like him.

Any other Martino fans in the house? Or, heaven forfend, detractors?

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Count me in as a fan. I know what you mean about the powerful experience that is seeing Pat Martino live. I saw him last year, and enjoyed it so much that I returned on the weekend to see the final sets of his run here in Chicago. Luckily, I'll get to see him once again, as he's returning this April.

As for his playing, I don't think I can do any better than what Tom wrote above, so I'll just say that he's probably the best jazz guitarist I've seen live next to John McLaughlin. I have not bought any of his older recordings, but they do play his older material on Public Radio quite often, and its great stuff. His "Live at Yoshi's" CD from a couple years back is one of my favorite guitar albums. His synergy with Joey DeFrancesco and Billy Hart sounds telepathic. I wish I could have seen that group live. And personally, I greatly enjoy his new album "Think Tank". I know its met with lots of criticism, especially with regard to Gonzalo Rubacalba's playing, but I find his subtleness perfect for the mood of the recording. He, along with Pat and the rest of the band sound great and I think its a very fine recording.

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Another big :tup for Pat and albums such as CONSCIOUSNESS, WE'LL BE TOGETHER AGAIN, and FOOTPRINTS.

Martino does a long, smokin' version of the pop tune "Sunny" on the album LIVE! which I got as a twofer with CONSCIOUSNESS (renamed "HEAD & HEART" by the folks at 32Jazz). The highlight of this twofer is the funky yet dark and smoky "Willow." B)

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Another vote for "Live at Yoshi's" - what a smokin' album! I also have his BN debut, "All Sides Now" from '96, which doesn't hold together quite as well. It teams him up with a number of other guitarists - Charlie Hunter, Les Paul, Kevin Eubanks, Mike Stern, & Joe Satriani (!). I dig the intent, but wish it had come off a little better. Worth picking up if you can find it cheaply.

Still need to pick up "Think Tank", and probably explore some of his earlier work as well.

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That solo on "Sonny" is incredible. That electric pianist didn't have much to say after that! Also, his chordal playing is excellent. I like the solo pieces he's done here and there.

How come I always picture a bee buzzing around a flower everytime I hear this solo? It's pretty incredible. He's a master of building tension through repetition. Also some fine playing on "All Blues" from Live At Yoshi's.

Edited by Jim Alfredson
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Pat Martino, I don't have as much of him (actually only "Live At Yoshi'"s) as I do another Pat in my collection, but he truly is an amazing player, especially since he completely recovered from something as devastating as an aneurism. What I love about "Live At Yoshi's" is the ferocious energy that is contained in every tune that makes it one of the best organ trio records I've ever heard, it also has made me reconsider Joey D's playing even moreso than I did on "Incredible!" where I thought more of an individual sense of self was coming through compared to like, "Reboppin". Back in highschool I had borrowed Martino's "Footprints" from one of the teachers in the music dept, it was a pretty good album but the sound was pretty muddy. Definitely Pat is I think one of the guys that has integrated Wes into his playing in a very complete way, but still maintaining his own identity. I'll have to check "Think Tank" sometime soon.

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Definitely Pat is I think one of the guys that has integrated Wes into his playing in a very complete way, but still maintaining his own identity.

I recall reading that Montgomery was Martino's idol and they used to get together and jam when Martino was young.

Another story a guitarist friend told me: apparently when George Benson came to New York intent on making it as a jazz instrumentalist (without the singing part), he went around to the clubs to check out the competition. Time after time he heard guitar players of whom he thought, "OK, he's doing some stuff I don't - but I can cop that. No problem." He was feeling confident. Then he heard Martino, and that's when he got scared.

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I saw Pat Martino play once in NYC in the mid-70s, before his aneuryism, at the Bottom Line. He sat on a stool and I don't think anything moved on him besides his fingers. He was so focused on his playing that I think the ceiling could have collapsed and he would have kept going! I recall him soloing and playing these incedibly intricate lines that built up in intensity until you felt you might burst. People in the audience were looking at each other(with severely dropped jaws!), as if to say, 'Did he really play that? Is that possible with only ten fingers?' So many years later, and the memory lingers from the impression he made on me that night- that's one great guitarist.

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Fortunate enough to see Martino at Ronnie Scotts in London the week before last. He brought his quintet over to the club with the main theme being a tribute to Coltrane. I've seen quite a few performances at Ronnies over the years but the performance by Martino and co on the first set was one of the best. To my mind, there's no-one who can match Martino when it comes to front-line pairing with tenorists and in this respect the comination with Michael Pedicin (who I'd never even heard of) worked a treat. It's also the first time I've heard a performance of 'Africa' other than on Coltrane's Africa-Brass album and this performance captured the hypnotic beauty of the tune perfectly. The young band he brought with him on this trip were a standout - the piano player (who's name also escapes me) being particularly impressive, with a Tyner-ish style and just brimfull of ideas. All were excellent though - Martino has a band here who fit his style very nicely.

After the gig I was fortunate enough to have a few words with Pat, who has been friendly and generous with his time on the couple of occasions that I have seen him. He confirmed that he'd enjoyed playing Ronnie's but that finishing sets could be frustrating - he would just like to continue playing right through the evening ! He also confirmed that there are a couple more Blue Note projects in the pipeline, after 'Yoshis' and 'Think Tank'. Hopefully Pat will back in London to grace the stage of Ronnie Scotts (where he looks very much at home) real soon...

:tup:tup

Edited by sidewinder
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Just a followup to a couple of early posts.

The album I had in mind was by Eric Kloss, called Life Force. I listen to it maybe once a year. It's not a must-have, but I got it in my youth and I enjoy it.

Consciousness is now available on the Prestige CD Eric Kloss Meets the Rhythm Section. The Rhythm Section at that time was the lost quartet's: Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette.

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  • 2 months later...

I bought Live at Yoshi's today - what a kick ass album! I just finished my 2nd listen.

I own some of his older stuff: East, Starbright, Exit, We'll Be Together Again, Footprints, First Light. But this is the first I've heard of his recent material. :wub:

Now I guess I'll have to work on picking up all the rest! :P

Edited by 7/4
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  • 11 months later...

Up for a bit more discussion about Pat Martino. I've only just checked out 'Think Tank' (better late than never) after seeing him play much of this stuff live. Like it ! Great to hear his version of Joe Ford's 'Earthlings' on this album - talk about obscure song titles. This album is way better than some of the writeups (e.g. Penguin Guide). Don't let these put you off. Recommended !

Pat is back in the UK at Ronnie Scotts this Summer - can't come quickly enough.. B-)

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I drove up to L.A. (Catalina Bar & Grill) to catch Pat with Joey D. just prior to the release of "Live at Yoshi's" and was *very* glad I did. The intensity of the performance matched the recording that ultimately followed. I found myself (like nearly the entire crowd) getting swept into that state of "spiritual manic release" that comes from a truly ferocious performance. We were just coming unglued by the solos and collective force that the band was putting forth - reduced to a euphoric, adrenalin/endorphin fog by the end of the show.

I'm very curious to get more input re. his new one. The reviewer on the AMG site basically panned it.

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I just bought one of the Fantasy collections of Jack McDuff's Prestige material - "Silken Soul" - and a young Martino is on 11 of the 13 tracks. Excellent, some of the best organ/tenor/guitar there is. (By the way - the reissue of McDuff's Prestige material is a discographical nightmare - it's all over the place.) (But hate to think what Concord might do, so I won't complain.) Martino was also a part of Willis Jackson's working group, and there are good reissues of this, too. And don't miss his appearance on Don Patterson's "These Are Soulful Days" - only one of 2 organ sessions with Jimmy Heath that I can think of off the top of my head.

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