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Pat Martino: We’ll Be Together Again

An all-time favorite of guitar players and Martino fans, We’ll Be Together Again has finally been reissued on CD by Joel Dorn’s 32 Jazz, which last year obtained the entire catalog of Muse Records. An intimate duet with pianist Gil Goldstein from a 1976 Muse session, it highlights the guitarist at the peak of his interpretive powers just a few years before the life-threatening aneurism and follow-up brain surgery that would sideline him through the ’80s.

In the context of mostly ballads and backed only by the sparse, sustained chords of Golstein’s atmospheric Fender Rhodes electric piano, Martino speaks eloquently and gracefully, plumbing the depths of emotion in a song’s lyric while occasionally leaping into double-time flurries of those signature breathtaking lines that he spins with such ease.

The title track is marked by soulful restraint and creamy tones and is one of the few instrumental renditions of this melancholy tune that stands up to the sheer emotional power of Billie Holiday’s plaintive version. His meditative take on “You Don’t Know What Love Is” is profoundly blue while his caressing touch on “Willow Weep for Me” is equally affecting. Pat brings a characteristically dark quality to J.J. Johnson’s “Lament” while he sounds uncharacteristically optimistic on Henry Mancini’s “Dreamsville.” And he manages to steer clear of schmaltz on his introspective reading of Steven Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns.”

The one variation from this program of brooding ballads is the opener, “Open Road.” A three-part suite that runs for 16 minutes, it features some of Martino’s most daring and forceful playing on the record and is marked by some uncanny tonal blending between his guitar and the Rhodes. In executing the fusiony unison lines and counterpoint work on the burning third section of the piece, it’s hard to tell them apart. Pat’s classically influenced solo excursion on the middle section is particularly brilliant.

Recorded the same year as his landmark fusion blowout for Warner Bros., Joyous Lake, We’ll Be Together Again shows the guitarist’s tender side in a more subdued setting. It sustains a mood of beauty and passion that is positively spellbinding.

Originally Published