Pat Martino: Live Last Night

Live Last Night

Long before he became a world renowned jazz virtuoso, guitarist Pat Martino was a sideman in small combos that prominently featured the Hammond B-3 organ. He's never lost his affection for that particular group dynamic, nor his quiet flair for moving back and forth between the roles of supporting player and compelling soloist.

Recording a live album at Blues Alley over the weekend with an all-star band, Martino sounded perfectly content enhancing the rhythm section's soulful thrust with fat chords and vibrato-tipped fills, or adding smoothly harmonized lines to the sound of saxophonist Eric Alexander's full-throated tenor.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Indeed, for much of Saturday night's opening set, Martino divided up the choruses evenly. Alexander and B-3 organist Tony Monaco were often the focus, a pairing made all the more potent by drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts' swift propulsion on "Noshufuru," "On The Stairs" and other Martino-penned tunes. Then again, just the sound of Monaco's climatic surges was enough to rattle the tableware.

Jazz guitar aficionados weren't short-changed, however. Martino's post-bop, minor mode improvising, even when teeming with 16th notes, was sleek and precise, never busy, and his use of sliding octaves colorfully underscored his stylistic ties to guitar great Wes Montgomery.

Tentatively dubbed "Double Play," the upcoming CD will feature a mix of old and new Martino tunes, as well as standards that inspire fresh interpretations. When the group was briefly pared to a hornless trio, Martino displayed his lyrical side with a warmly embellished rendering of "'Round Midnight," sensitively shaded by Watts and Monaco.

-- MIKE JOYCE

By J. Freedom du Lac |  June 28, 2009; 5:37 PM ET Live Last Night
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