Pat Martino which was recorded in 1976 and first released on the Warner Bros. label.
Seemingly a hardcore mainstreamer at heart—though one with no shortage
of experimental élan, proven over a series of ten albums from 1967's El Hombre (Prestige) to 1976's wonderful duo with pianist Gil Goldstein, We'll Be Together Again
(Muse, 1976)—guitarist Pat Martino came relatively late to the
jazz-rock fusion game. His first album to truly plug in, his 1976 Warner
Bros. debut, Starbright, was an eclectic affair that mixed synth and electric piano-laden interpretations of original music and a couple of wonderful Wayne Shorter
covers ("Fall" and "Nefertiti"), with Martino moving comfortably from
acoustic guitar to, for the first time, a more overdriven electric tone
that still retained the inherent darkness of the sound with which he'd
But it was with today's Rediscovery, 1977's Joyous Lake,
that the increasingly well-known and already influential guitarist from
Philadelphia took the big dive into electric waters, with a crack band
of then-largely unknowns—keyboardist Delmar Brown, who would go on to
work with everyone from Bob Moses and Miles Davis to Sting, electric bassist Mark Leonard, and a drummer whose muscular and effervescent style would see him go on to work with everyone from Stanley Jordan and David Fiuczynski to Robin Eubanks and The Manhattan Transfer: Kenwood Dennard.
the opening "Line Games"—one of three Martino originals that are
augmented by two from Brown (the atmospherically charged "Pyramidal
Visions" and at least initially more relaxed "Mardi Gras") and one from
Dennard (the fast funk of the Herbie Hancock-informed
"M'Wandishi")—the entire group charges out of the gate. A fiery tune
with a characteristically knotty theme, it demonstrates that Martino may
have plugged in with a more overdriven tone, but his bop-drenched lines
still speak of his mainstream background...a differentiator from most
fusion of the time in that it truly never loses site of where it came
"Song Bird" is much longer (twice the length of "Line
Games") and, with its stop/start elliptical theme, something that dates
back, conceptually, to earlier Martino tunes like "The Great Stream,"
from Live! (Muse, 1974); but, with Brown, Leonard and Dennard's
powerful support, it still possesses the fire and energy of fusion,
even if Martino's tone and playing really hasn't changed much...only the
context has. Similarly, the aptly monikered title track that closes the
disc, with Brown doubling Martino's clean-toned theme, is something
that could easily be transferred into a more acoustic setting, with its
Latin tinge and propulsive rhythm.
Still, Martino's experiment
with an early guitar synthesizer on "M'Wandishi" suggests he was open to
atypical textures, even as he ran rapid eighth-note lines over Leonard
and Dennard's muscular groundwork.
Sadly, Joyous Lake
was given only a lukewarm reception and, after a brain aneurysm that
left the guitarist with amnesia so complete that he had to literally
relearn his instrument again through listening to his existing body of
work, Martino's return to performance and recording in the late 1980s
was also largely his homecoming to the more mainstream vibe of his pre-Starbright recordings. Still, the guitarist subsequently saw fit to reunite the group (calling it Joyous Lake) for one record: 1998's Stone Blue (Blue Note), adding saxophonist Eric Alexander to the mix and substituting James Genus for Mark Leonard.
for those who enjoy their fusion with a stronger tie to the tradition,
even as its grooves and colors are irrefutably electric and in their
energy, electrified, Joyous Lake remains an undervalued gem in Martino's discography, and one that absolutely merits Rediscovery.
All compositions by Pat Martino except as indicated
"Line Games" - 3:55
"Pyramidal Vision" (Delmar Brown) - 7:42
"Mardi Gras" (Brown) - 8:56
"M'Wandishi" (Kenwood Dennard) - 5:29
"Song Bird" - 7:55
"Joyous Lake" - 7:33
Pat Martino - guitar, EML 101 synthesizer, percussion
Delmar Brown - electric piano, Oberheim polyphonic, EML 500
Mark Leonard - electric bass
Kenwood Dennard - drums, percussion