Live From Zanzibar Blue: Pat Martino Quintet
“The Phineas Trane” (a pun pronounced the “finest” Trane) and “Africa” are from Martino’s “Think Tank” CD, just released on October 7. The Coltrane influence is present not only on the CD but also in the Zanzibar set, in the complex turns of phrase, inventiveness, and occasional simultaneous improvisations. These days, my impression is that Martino is taking his “hard bop” roots and pushing the limits of technique and concept to see what kinds of structures and integrity can be developed. In one sense, the set could have been heard at the Village Vanguard in the 1960’s, but the improvisational skill and complexity of movement is taken to another level. While some may wish for a more “modern” sound, I personally like the historical and musical continuity, and the echoes of a time when many of the sets (some recorded and some not) by so many cutting edge musicians were making musical history.
A few notes about the sidemen:
Kikoski, the pianist, a Criss Cross recording artist, has worked extensively with drummer Roy Haynes’s group, as well as many of the other greats of the jazz community in the U.S. and Europe. His solos bear some echoes of McCoy Tyner, but he has a style and concept all his own, which also nicely complements Martino’s.
Pedicin, the tenor sax, is a seasoned veteran who performed with Dave Brubeck (1982) and several key big bands. He brings to the group a rare combination of precision and passion. Interestingly, he is a sort of multidisciplinary “renaissance man,” holds a PhD in Psychology, and runs a counseling service especially for members of the arts.
Pedraz, on bass, received the 2003 Newcomer/Gerber Award in jazz. A local musician with connections to Bucks County and Princeton, NJ, Pedraz has a beautiful sound and articulation, and importantly for a bassist (Gerry Mulligan, for example, said he was always listening to the bassist as much as the drummer), he seemed to be right on top of the music at every point in time.
Robinson, an astounding drummer, did the European tour with Pat in 2002. His solos were hard driving, and yet beautifully crafted. Although his sound is heavier than Elvin Jones (whose isn’t?), he thoroughly exemplified Elvin’s precept that the drums need to be thought of as a single instrument, not a percussion section. He is nothing less than a perfect drummer for Martino, because he drives the group intensely like a souped up Mack Truck, yet, paradoxically and delicately, he never intrudes on the other musicians.
At the end of October, Pat and the group head to Ronnie Scott’s in London. Pat will also join the fabulous pianist, Jim Ridl, in Duet concerts at the jazz festival in Cork, Ireland. In addition, Pat will be presenting clinics and master classes on his journey. Then Pat heads for St. Louis and the West Coast, where he'll play at the famous Yoshi's in Oakland, CA, November 13-16. Martino and Ridl are also booked for the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. I imagine this Duet is going to make some waves and turn some heads. Excitement is in the air.