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The two-disc set, Comin' and Goin', collects guitarist Pat Martino's final Muse LP of the 1970s, Exit (1976), and his first Muse recording of the 1980s, The Return (1987). In between, Martino recorded two fine fusion albums for Warner Bros. (both documented on the 32 Jazz set, First Light ), suffered a brain aneurysm, lost all his memory and completely taught himself to play the guitar all over again.
A story like that almost forces the listener to place unusual regard on the music, as so many critics have already done. Since the two albums are now together, disc two either suggests a display of awesome heroics or, unfortunately, the mere shadow of disc one. It is neither.
Pat Martino has always been a fluent, melodic player with a facility that borders on inhuman, so fleet yet logical are his musical journeys. Early on he developed a coherent sound of his own on guitar, often exploring his own long and exceedingly tricky lines. But despite the varieties of music he's explored (and his jazz ragas are among his most accomplished), he always maintains a certain Martino style.
Surprisingly, the Martino style is very much in evidence throughout these two discs, despite the lapse of time and the occurrences in between. It's a little shaky on disc two, but it's there, especially as Martino warms up.
Other interesting differences are present too. The earlier date is unusually high in non-Martino fare (Ellington's "Come Sunday," Mancini's "Days Of Wine And Roses," Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa" and Benny Golson's "I Remember Clifford"). Martino heads an exceptional quartet here, with Gil Goldstein on piano, the outstanding Richard Davis on bass and Billy Hart on drums. The music leaps and lopes (best on Martino's own nine-minute title cut and "Three Base Hit") and alternating players disappear for a while then return suddenly, still seamlessly. Davis and Goldstein are simply exceptional.
On the later disc, a live session, Martino leads his working trio of the time, featuring the Ron Carter-like Steve LaSpina on bass and Joey Baron on drums. Martino's four long originals are rather undistinguished, but nevertheless contain some thrilling playing from the guitarist. He seems breathlessly willing to play and play (he's also virtually the only soloist throughout). He can be as dazzling as he once was - even though he's since become a more remarkable player - and he gets a little dirtier, a little more jangled than he'd proven to be in the past.
Comin' and Goin' is a fine collection and an essential companion to 32 Jazz's encyclopedic releases of Pat Martino's consistently impressive body of work. Throughout both of these discs, Martino displays a high degree of musical invention that will continue to appeal to longtime listeners and guitar aficionados alike.
Songs:Exit; Come Sunday; Three Base Hit; Days Of Wine And Roses; Blue Bossa; I Remember Clifford; Do You Have A Name?; Slipback; All That You have; Turnpike.
Players: Pat Martino: guitar; Gil Goldstein: piano; Richard Davis, Steve LaSpina: bass; Billy Hart, Joey Baron: drums.