"Greatness cannot be denied..." Bill Milkowski
"Genius reviews itself..." Brent Black
The shortest reviews on record? A trusted editor and mentor would encourage me to stay away from words like "Genius" but given a more open ended look at the unique life and times of Pat Martino, there may be no better word found to describe his artistic impact on guitarists in general and jazz in particular.
Back story is at times captivating adding together bits and pieces of a journalistic puzzle that a mere review can not adequately address. Martino is a remarkable testament to the human spirit and to the belief in a higher power as journeys such as this simply "don't just happen."
Four decades and twenty three recordings later we have a 2009 triumph, Undeniable/Live At Blues Alley. Martino is a true survivor in every sense of the word. Having suffered through some apparent mis-diagnosis of varying physical ailments in the 1970's and rebounding from an aneurysm in 1980, Martino's music takes on a far deeper meaning then that of the average guitarist. Learning to replay an instrument after life saving brain surgery robbed him of his memory is indeed no small feet which makes this recording almost twenty years later all the more special.
Martino's minor mode post bop improvisational lines are stream lined with precision and backed with a soulful trio of Eric Alexander on tenor saxophone, Tony Monaco on organ and perhaps the perfect drummer for this occasion in Jeff "Tain" Watts. Going into Martino's musical trick bag is like playing musical Santa Claus with a little something for everyone. "Midnight Special" is an organic blues shuffle that showcases Monaco to perfection. "Inside Out" showcases tenor player Alexander as probably one of the best if not most under-rated players working today. Jeff "Tain" Watts simply swings like a beast throughout this set, Watts does not set comfortably in the pocket - he is the pocket.
Captured at the top of his game in an incredible live set that shows that despite the numerous physical set backs, the prodigious musical talents of one of the very best at his craft hold up well over time.
5 Stars. Pat Martino's swing is undeniable!
Pat Martino has recently released a stellar memoir: Here And Now! The Autobiography of Pat Martino. Available at his web site listed above or http://www.halleonardbooks.com/