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Pat Martino: Firedance

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After finishing All Sides Now for Blue Note in 1997, the concept album of pairings with musicians of various compatability, Pat Martino headed off to San Francisco to record this intriguing east-meeting-west project. In a sense, it has a collaborative spirit that extends the earlier project, but here, the musicians cross freely over cultural boundaries, mainly in the direction of Indian classical tradition. The session is led by flutist Peter Block and sitarist Habib Khan, who provide the compositions-improvisational vehicles more than anything-and are joined by violinist Ilya Rayzman and the ever-robust Zakir Hussain on tabla. But it is Martino who provides the greatest excitement here, partly because of the unorthodoxy of the electric guitar in this setting, and partly because he burns, pure and simple. He serves a clean-but-ferocious style that is inimitably his own, and yet which adapts itself to other modes of musical thinking.