The Blue Note Records debut by guitarist extraordinaire Pat Martino is spotty at best. It is primarily a series of duets and ensemble settings with a wide array of top notch guitarists spanning different genres. This recording was co-produced by jazz/fusion critic Bill Milkowski along with Matt Resnicoff. The feeling here is that Mr. Martino had been granted a minimal amount of artistic control from the onset. What we have here is something short of a hack job!
The CD commences with the Stevie Wonder tune "Too High". Charlie Hunter provides his trademark bass/leslie guitar shtick and Martino takes care of the single note runs; therefore, dictating the melody line. All in all a harmless and uneventful rendition of this generally delightful Wonder composition. The 2nd cut, a Martino original features the master along with Tuck Andress, Andress provides some sympathetic acoustic strumming behind Martino's airy electric lead. A nice tune but altogether uninspiring. The affair procedes with a Martino original called "Progression" in essence it's a duet between Kevin Eubanks on acoustic and Martino again, on the electric. Eubanks is mixed behind Martino's over the top electric. A fairly nondescript outing with Eubanks mainly comping in the background. These two guitar greats take on the chemistry of oil and water on this cut. The styles are so distinctly opposite and the listener feels that these two are off in different directions. A forgettable tune nonetheless. "I'm Confessin'" is an effective and low key effort between Pat and Les Paul. One tune with acoustic guitarist Micheal Hedges is pleasant but Hedges remains fairly low in the mix. "Ellipsis" is a totally negligible duet between Martino and rock guitar great Joe Satriani. Satriani is in the wrong neighborhood and the song never gets off the ground. These guys sounded as though they didn't want to be there but perhaps the producer's thought it was a novel approach? Satriani opens with some heavy metal type distortion than Martino enters with his his "as expected" single note runs at this juncture Satriani reduces his playing to remedial comping in the background. This is a disaster! A huge mistake. Satriani is a gifted stylist in his own right but had no business being here. Perhaps 2 or 3 days in the studio may have produced something more meaningful but I seriously doubt it. Things proceed with Martino backing Cassandra Wilson's vocal rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now". Two more cuts in a quartet setting with "chops of doom" guitarist Mike Stern. "Ayako" is a Martino original and along with Stern there finally seems to be a hint of chemistry in the air. The best cut on the CD, "Outrider" again features Stern along with drummer Ben Perowsky and Scott Colley on bass. This is a fast paced cut. Martino and Stern proceed at a blistering pace. Things finally get moving and we've reached the second to last tune on the entire CD. The final cut is another abysmal duet with Satriani.
Let's hope that Pat Martino enjoys a longstanding and prosperous relationship with Blue Note. He's one of the great guitarists of our time. Unfortunately, he's not off to a good start with this poorly produced and unadventurous recording. Martino doesn't blend very well with an onslaught of guitar heroes. His voice is too distinctive on the instrument.
Track Listing: Too High; Two Of A Kind; Progression; I'm Confessin'; Ellipsis; Both Sides Now; Ayako; Two Days Old; Outrider; Never and After.
Personnel: Pat Martino: guitar; Tuck Andress: guitar; Les Paul: guitar; Joe Satriani: guitar; Mike Stern: guitar; Charlie Hunter: guitar; Cassandra Wilson: vocal; and various support.
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