Monday, January 29, 2007

Pat Martino: El Hombre

Widely recognized today as one of jazz’s greatest and most original guitarists, Pat Martino was just 22 when he entered Van Gelder’s studio for his debut disc, El Hombre, recorded in 1967. As a sideman, he had played with Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith, Don Patterson and Groove Holmes, among other B-3 organists, so it wasn’t a stretch to hear his first disc be in the soul-jazz groove in the company of B3er and fellow Philadelphian Trudy Pitts. There are galloping tunes as well as tender ballads. In the words of new liner note writer Dave McElfresh, Martino demonstrated “the unique mid- to low-range tone of his guitar, the more-intelligent-than-romantic signature that still defines his style. Such somber, fleet-fingered rants, with each phrase’s high notes punctuated like a punch in the mouth, had already—by his first album—come to embody the best of hard bop guitar playing.” A stunning debut, El Hombre features originals and a Jobim cover, “Once I Loved.” Bonus track is the previously unreleased “Song for My Mother.”


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