Gene Ludwig-Pat Martino Trio – Young Guns – HighNote HCD 7258, 76:53 ****:
(Gene Ludwig – Hammond B-3 organ; Pat Martino – electric guitar; Randy Gelispie – drums)
Taken from the private collection of iconic jazz guitarist, Pat Martino, HighNote Records has issued some smoking sessions from the Gene Ludwig-Pat Martino Trio recorded live at Club 118 in Louisville, Kentucky in 1968-1969. Hearing early recordings from the fleet-fingered Martino is always a treat, but what makes this CD issue even more valuable is the contribution of Martino’s partner, Gene Ludwig. Gene died in 2010, and his passing did not get enough press. Gene recorded from the mid 1960s as a leader and well into the new millennium, but his recording output was for very small labels, and Ludwig spent the majority of his time in the Pittsburgh area.
Gene was inspired to move from the piano to the Hammond B-3 organ after hearing Jimmy Smith, who brought the Hammond into the jazz forefront in the late 1950s. Ludwig’s style is not showy but fully in the pocket, and he found a great partner in Martino, whose understated fleetness naturally melded with Ludwig’s. Pat was only 23 years old when these sessions were first recorded for his private collection (Gene was 30 at the time). Martino had cut his teeth earlier with organists Don Patterson and Jack McDuff. Drummer Gelispie was Gene’s drummer and gets ample solo time in the extended tracks presented here.
Song selection is mainstream and include tracks written by John Coltrane, Milt Jackson, and Wes Montgomery. Martino, who remains active, has been aptly compared to Montgomery due to his smoothness and rapid fire delivery.
Highlights from the Louisville sessions include “Mr. PC,” where Martino goes into overdrive, as well as the Newly/Bricusse show tune, “Who Can I Turn To?” due to Ludwig’s soulfulness and the simpatico between Martino and drummer, Gelispie. Of historical significance, however, is Martino’s composition, “Colossus,” which was previously unrecorded. It’s a real burner, and must have been a treat to hear live in this intimate club setting.
I wonder what else Martino has in his personal collection that he’d be doing a public service to release. Till then, Young Guns will do nicely for his fans as well as those in the know about the unheralded organist, Gene Ludwig.
TrackList: Who Can I Turn To?, Mr. PC, Sam Sack, Watch What Happens, Close Your Eyes, Road Song, Colossus