Alone Together with Bobby Rose
Pat Martino’s collaboration with Bobby Rose eventually led to Baiyina (The Clear Evidence): Psychedelic Excursions Through the Magical Mysteries of the Koran, a 1968 raga-based album inspired by Ravi Shankar, but the two Philly guitarists’ path to fusion nirvana started four years earlier in Atlantic City. They had summer jobs playing at rival clubs on the same street, and their jam sessions began an artistic relationship that lasted until this series of recordings, made between 1977 and 1978, culled from Martino’s personal collection. Rose is also featured on The Visit, Martino’s 1972 tribute to Wes Montgomery, later re-titled Footprints, but these intimate low-fidelity documents, some capturing private duo sessions in Martino’s Philadelphia apartment, offer a rare, unvarnished glimpse into the creative process of two guitarists at the peak of their powers.
By 1976, Martino was touring internationally with his Joyous Lake fusion quartet, but worsening health issues prompted him to slow down. He spent the summer of 1977 on a duet tour with Rose, and this collection displays the fruit that summer bore. It features some of Martino’s last recordings before 1979, when a near-fatal brain aneurysm left him with amnesia, sidelining his recording career until 1987.
The album opens with Wes Montgomery’s “Four on Six” and the title track, straight-ahead standards that pair Martino’s virtuosic chromatic lines with Rose’s aggressive rhythm playing. This interplay continues on the understated Michel Legrand ballad “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” through to the yearning “One for My Baby,” the Frank Sinatra saloon song. It culminates with “Israfel,” a highlight of Baiyina, with its vertiginous manipulation of rhythm and an Eastern influence.