Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pat Martino - 1972 [1997] "Footprints"

Originally released by Cobblestone and later by Muse, this 1997 CD reissue from 32 Jazz features the distinctive and exploratory guitarist Pat Martino in a tribute to Wes Montgomery. Martino does not attempt to sound like Wes (although he uses octaves here and there), and only one of the six selections ("Road Song") was actually recorded by Montgomery; the tribute is more heartfelt than imitative. With the intuitive assistance of rhythm guitarist Bobby Rose, bassist Richard Davis, and drummer Billy Higgins, Martino stretches out on six selections, including a bluesy original ("The Visit"), "Footprints," and "Alone Together," always sounding like himself and pushing the boundaries of straight-ahead jazz.

Footprints was originally released as The Visit on Cobblestone Records in 1972 then reissued on Muse under its current title in 1975. This superb record was Pat Martino's sixth as a leader and his first away from the Prestige fold. This tremendous quartet session was recorded March 1972 when the guitarist was still only 27 and featured the substantially driving input from bassist Richard Davis, second guitarist Bobby Rose and drummer Billy Higgins. The disc was conceived as a personal tribute to the memory of his friend, Wes Montgomery, and while it certainly has links to its inspiration, Footprints clearly outlines some of Martino's most beautiful traits—crisp, logical, narrative lines; nothing hurried or studied but, rather, a most thoughtful statement of heartfelt intention.

The disc, recently reissued on CD by 32 Jazz, begins with Martino's rousing "The Visit," a 6/8 blues piece that suggests a much more adventuresome Wes-like appeal. Richard Davis assumes the role of dueling co-leader rather than timekeeper here and throughout. And it really makes a difference too.Montgomery's "Road Song" is explored to show the similarities—and differences—in the two guitarist's styles. Martino, a player of many ideas, traverses Wes's octaves and performs single-note patterns that would leave Montgomery green with envy. The blues balladry of Wayne Shorter's enchanting "Footprints" gets one of its most haunting, ethereal performances ever in Martino's free-for-all exploration. Martino glides over his fretboard effortlessly while Davis and Higgins work a simpatico gypsy groove (Davis has a provocative solo here too). Bobby Rose is heard, ever so rhythmically, challenging Martino to find new paths, making one wonder where the Gabor Szabo/Jimmy Stewart team would have taken a gem like this. The program is rounded out with the excellent performances of Michel Legrand's "What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life," "Jobim's "How Insensitive" and the Dietz/Schwartz standard "Alone Together"—a collection of crowd-pleasing tunes that would fit easily into many of Wes Montgomery's Verve dates.

During a 30-year recording career of many highs and a few lows, Footprints stands as one of Pat Martino's very best. The musicianship is superior, dynamic and attention grabbing. Best of all, this ideal quartet's interplay is outstanding and often astounding. Very highly recommended.

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).

While the album’s length is brief by today’s standards and it would have been nice if this reissue had retained the original art and title (the original liner notes are included), it’s Martino’s musicality-here at the height of its powers-that makes Footprints a jazz guitar classic.

Martino plays in a 2-guitar quartet – with Bobby Rose backing him up on guitar, plus rhythm accompaniment by Richard Davis and Billy Higgins. The sound's definitely in the trippier, post-hippie style of Martino's work, with a sort of looseness and fluidity that you either love or hate, but a nicely swinging rhythm underneath. Titles include "Footprints", "Road Song", "The Visit", and "Alone Together". (Out of print.) 

Track listing

  1. "The Visit" (Pat Martino) - 4:34
  2. "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" (Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Michel Legrand) - 7:18
  3. "Road Song" (Wes Montgomery) - 5:43
  4. "Footprints" (Wayne Shorter) - 8:22
  5. "How Insensitive" (Norman Gimbel, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes) - 6:13
  6. "Alone Together" (Howard Dietz, Arthur Schwartz) - 5:52

Personnel

1 comment:

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