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December 1997

Pat Martino
Footprints
32 Jazz

Conceived as a tribute to Wes Montgomery, this album was originally issued as The Visit in 1975. At the time, jazz guitar was experiencing a revival of sorts that primarily focused on players who had first gotten their start in the '50s. In that context, this work-attitude laden and rife with hip, technically pristine blowing-represented a breath of fresh air that helped lay the groundwork for the Martino mystique.

Supported by second guitarist Bobby Rose, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Billy Higgins, Martino utilizes a wide range of grooves to conjure a variety of moods. A bright jazz waltz in the mold of Montgomery's "West Coast Blues," "The Visit" swings mightily, giving Pat a chance to shape long, fluid lines that frequently dip into his deep creative well. The head to Montgomery's easy grooving "Road Song" is rendered in octaves; during the blowing section, Pat freely contrasts extended phrases with bluesy licks. Slow and seductive, "Footprints" explores new spaces that find Martino playing rhythmically and at one point incorporating a series of microtonal bends (the ending features some especially cool bow work by Davis).

While the album's length is brief by today's standards and it would have been nice if this reissue had retained the original art and title (the original liner notes are included), it's Martino's musicality-here at the height of its powers-that makes Footprints a jazz guitar classic.

Originally published in December 1997
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