Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pat Martino - 1987 [1994] "The Return"

The Return is a live album by guitarist Pat Martino which was recorded in 1987 and first released on the Muse label.

Pat Martino experienced a traumatic brain event in about 1980. When he awoke from surgery, he could not remember his parents. He no longer could play the guitar. He had to start over. All seemed lost. (For the details of this and more, see his autobiography, "In the Moment.")

And yet, and yet... After several years of therapy and practice (often listening to his own records) and receiving love from his parents (with whom he stayed), Pat Martino, one of the hottest jazz guitarist on the scene...returned to record this work.

He had performed under his birth name, Pat Assura, several times to warm up. But this time it was Pat Martino. I hear from knowledgeable friends that the venue was filled to overflowing, mostly with musicians (since Pat is a musician's musician, a guitar player's guitar player).

It was a return to undiminished greatness. The band (acoustic bass and drums) had not rehearsed, but knew how to weave it all together stunningly. Inspiration overflows in every tune. The numbers are not tightly structured pieces (as Pat would later return to), but, nevertheless, they all swing with a red hot intensity. There was no meandering, no hesitation, no compensation for a not-up-to par Pat Martino. Pat was back: the return.

Pat plays a flury of notes, chords, octaves--and never loses his way. And it was only up from here--as I observed in Chicago recently at The Jazz Showcase, when Pat performed with organ and drums. It was the best two jazz nights of my life.

The man is a maestro, a virtuoso, one-of-a-kind. Sadly, he is under-appreciated with respect to popularity. However, those in the know, know the genius of his miracle man. For that, I am thankful. There is beauty in the universe. Think on that. 

There's not much to add other than what the other reviewers have written, other than to say that this album is a unique one in Pat's ouevre because his playing is, to my ears at least, a lot more wild and raw here (in positive terms). It also features the unique drumming of Joey Baron. The interplay here is really exciting too.

Pat Martino is the man. This album is chop city from beginning to end. I can't believe the endurance. long, long, long....fast solos. buy it if you can find it. pretty sure it's been reissued on another disc. 

Pat Martino suffered a brain aneurysm in 1980, and after successful surgery, he was left with musical amnesia. He had to completely relearn how to play guitar, and the process of recovery took a long time. Finally, in 1987, he was ready to play in public and record. Showcased in a trio with bassist Steve LaSpina and drummer Joey Baron, Martino performs lengthy versions of four new originals during a live set from Fat Tuesdays, showing no mercy either for his sidemen or toward himself. Eighty percent back at the time (he would continue to get stronger record by record during the next few years), the guitarist's musical courage is admirable, and the music (which can only be classified as "modern jazz") is frequently exciting.

Track listing

All compositions by Pat Martino

    "Do You Have a Name?" - 12:33
    "Slipback" - 8:50
    "All That You Have" - 11:09
    "Turnpike" - 11:24


    Pat Martino - guitar
    Steve LaSpina - bass
    Joey Baron - drums

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