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Pat Martino: Footprints

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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).

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