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Pat Martino Quartet: Undeniable

Philip Booth reviews guitar great Pat Martino's new live album

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Pat Martino

Nearly 25 years after his recording comeback and a decade after his last in-concert album, 2001’s Live at Yoshi’s, Pat Martino turns in a set that has the revered guitarist reprising the bluesy organ-based jazz that launched his career in the ’60s. This time he’s caught on the East Coast, at Washington, D.C.’s Blues Alley, for a sometimes mellow, sometimes rambunctious set featuring his band at the time: frequent collaborator Tony Monaco on B3 organ, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts. Martino’s melding of heady bop lines and fat grooves remains as engaging as ever.

The school of soul jazz is in session on several occasions here, particularly on a pair of blues shuffles, both of which bring to mind the music Martino heard and played during his early career stint in Harlem. The aptly titled “Goin’ to a Meeting” stretches out to 10 minutes with the help of an earthy, yelping romp by Alexander, who often steals limelight from the leader. The tuneful tenor-and-guitar unison melody of “Midnight Special” is followed by a conversant, staccato-chopped organ solo and an adventuresome turn from Martino that has the guitarist unleashing long series of notes and making use of a repeated phrase.

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