Pat Martino: El Hombre (2007)
Recorded May 1, 1967, this session was Pat Martino's first album as leader. His guitar moves valiantly with all the swagger of a cowboy; smoking guns and flying fingers dot the landscape of his trail. The allusion, of course, is to Paul Newman's Western film Hombre that came out the same year.
Both are unforgettable. Both feature young lion artists in their earliest successes and there are, indeed, many parallels between the music and the movie. The film was released in March of that year. Martino's album was released shortly after. Rhythms drive the album hard, like hoof beats of many horses in motion. Martino's preference for the bass notes of the guitar underlies the stomping walk of good men and bad men on a mission. With its guitar, flute, organ, drum, congas and bongos instrumentation, Martino's album reflected the 1960s as well as Paul Newman's minority-group-member-pushed-to-his-limits character. The album and the film were not directly related, but El Hombre lends itself to many hours of creative interplay on the part of the listener.
With six original compositions on this program of eight pieces, Martino carved his niche in modern jazz with a bang. This Rudy Van Gelder remastering brings the sound to us with utmost eloquence, balancing the band perfectly while keeping Martino at center front. The blues run through this program and flutist Danny Turner, drummer Mitch Fine and organist Trudy Pitts play a major role in giving the world a look at Philadelphia's cowboys, while the addition of percussionists Abdu Johnson (congas) and Vance Anderson (bongos) completes the recipe with plenty of zest. There's much to like here, even if you're not a fan of movie Westerns.
Track Listing: Waltz for Geri; Once I Loved; El Hombre; Cisco; One for Rose; A Blues for Mickey-O; Just Friends; Song for My Mother.
Personnel: Pat Martino: guitar; Trudy Pitts: organ; Danny Turner: flute; Mitch Fine: drums; Abdu Johnson: congas; Vance Anderson: bongos.