140

Pat Martino Quartet: Undeniable

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Pat Martino: Pat Martino Quartet: Undeniable Pat Martino Quartet

Undeniable

HighNote

2011

Hot buttered soul-jazz, Batman, guitarist Pat Martino's Undeniable is the business! Recorded live at Washington's Blues Alley in June 2009, with tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, organist Tony Monaco and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, it harks back to Martino's early to mid 1960s roots in combos led by organists Don Patterson, Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Jimmy McGriff and Richard "Groove" Holmes. The album revisits the codified, fifty year-old style with invention.

It is not a style Martino was born into. Brought up in Philadelphia, he was a child prodigy whose father would take him down the local barbershop to entertain the customers with note-perfect renditions of such finger-twisting performances as guitarist Johnny Smith's recording of "Moonlight In Vermont," made with tenor saxophonist Stan Getz in 1952. Smith, Martino says, "seemed to me, as a child, to understand everything about music," and his chordal dexterity still resonates in Martino's playing.

But from the start, Martino's professional career took him away from Smith's lush, downtown music towards a blacker, uptown sound, sparked by his discovery of guitarist Wes Montgomery, another continuing influence. Martino's first road gig, circa 1961, was with organist Charles Earland, and was followed by a stint with bar-walking tenor saxophonist Willis "Gator" Jackson. In order to immerse himself in soul-jazz, Martino relocated to Harlem, New York City in the early 1960s. In the confrontational racial atmosphere of that era, this took guts and determination—qualities Martino displayed again two decades later, when brain surgery left him without most of his memory and he spent four years relearning the guitar from scratch.

Martino has lived a life, and his music—including his ongoing forays into soul-jazz—is the richer for it.

Undeniable is Martino's first album since 2006's Remembering: A Tribute To Wes Montgomery (Blue Note), made with piano, bass, drums and percussion. Montgomery's round tone and signature parallel octaves are constants in Martino's style and remain evident in the new album. His lightning-fast, perfectly executed, single-note runs are, however, pretty much his own.

Martino is a virtuoso player, but, thankfully, one who never allows technique to overwhelm feeling. In this, he is well matched by his colleagues on Undeniable. Alexander is a robust tenor saxophonist whose lusty solos inhabit the crossroads where jazz and rhythm and blues meet. Ditto Monaco, whose walking bass lines retain their precision even when his hands are at their busiest. Watts is a groove drummer par excellence.

Most of the tunes, all but one of them written by Martino, are blues, with the exception of the opening "Lean Years," which leans towards straight-ahead mid 1960s hard bop (its publisher is listed as Prestige, the label for which Martino recorded his debut album, El Hombre in 1967, suggesting it may have been written in the late 1960s). A tender rumination on Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" also steps outside the paradigm. The jaunty "Side Effect," which closes the album, is the most Montgomery-esque tune, a number that might have stepped right off Montgomery's Incredible Jazz Guitar (Riverside, 1960) or Full House (Riverside, 1962).

Undeniable was recorded over the Martino quartet's three nights at the Blues Alley, and it beggars belief that there was not enough material of the same caliber to fill out a double album. The seven tracks here are, presumably, the best of the best. Nobody, today, does soul-jazz better.

Tracks: Lean Years; Inside Out; Goin' To A Meeting; Double Play; Midnight Special; 'Round Midnight; Side Effect.

Personnel: Pat Martino: guitar; Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; Tony Monaco: organ; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums.

Photo Credit
Courtesy of John Broughton

Title: Pat Martino Quartet: Undeniable | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: HighNote Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition Extended Analysis Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read Grateful Dead: Cornell '77 Extended Analysis Grateful Dead: Cornell '77
by Doug Collette
Published: May 6, 2017
Read Chick Corea: The Musician Extended Analysis Chick Corea: The Musician
by John Kelman
Published: May 2, 2017
Read Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial Extended Analysis Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "U.K.: Ultimate Collectors' Edition" Extended Analysis U.K.: Ultimate Collectors' Edition
by John Kelman
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Phish: St. Louis '93" Extended Analysis Phish: St. Louis '93
by Doug Collette
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Jim Ridl: Door in a Field V2, Songs of the Green River" Extended Analysis Jim Ridl: Door in a Field V2, Songs of the Green River
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 17, 2016
Read "John Scofield: Country for Old Men" Extended Analysis John Scofield: Country for Old Men
by John Kelman
Published: September 19, 2016
Read "The Rascals: The Complete Singles A's & B's" Extended Analysis The Rascals: The Complete Singles A's & B's
by Doug Collette
Published: April 1, 2017
Read "Jack Bruce: Things We Like" Extended Analysis Jack Bruce: Things We Like
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: September 17, 2016

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.