Pat Martino, guitar – East! – Prestige/ Mobile Fidelity

Pat Martino – East! – Prestige (1968)/  Mobile Fidelity (2015) UDSACD 2018 stereo-only SACD, 38:06 ****1/2:

(Pat Martino – guitar; Eddie Green – piano; Ben Tucker – bass, tambourine; Tyrone Brown – bass; Lenny McBrowne – drums)

Philadelphia native Pat Martino was a working musician as a teenager. His break came touring with r & b performer Lloyd Price (“Stagger Lee”). He became a devotee of soul jazz and played with Don Patterson and Jack McDuff. By the time he was twenty, Martino was signed by Prestige Records as a band leader. He released several albums, including Strings!, Desperado, El Hombre, East! and Baiyina (The Clear Evidence). His entrance into fusion put him in front of a wider audience. Despite suffering a brain aneurism in 1980, Martino returned to music and touring. He has written instructional guitar books and a revelatory autobiography, Here and Now!  [We reviewed the film on his  amnesia about his guitar playing and his amazing recovery…Ed.]

East! has been reissued by Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs. Utilizing the proprietary GAIN 2 (Greater Ambient Information Network) for re-mastering of the analog tapes, the music is cut on a dual-layered (or hybrid) SACD Ultradisc. Now, a notable album session from 1968 is rendered by dynamic technology. The opening title track (written by bassist Tyrone Brown) begins with seductive one-note bass riffs and a gently cascading piano accompaniment (Eddie Green). Then (also with subtlety), Martino injects his fluid guitar strains. His gossamer riffs wash over the jam which has a deft chord transition. At 3;10, there is a discernible up tempo shift and the quartet transitions with intricacy. The rhythm section gets in lockstep and is joined by the succinct chords of Green. Martino’s switches from the mellower Wes Montgomery-style read to a jagged guitar.  Green solos (with versatility) during a slower transition and continues into the faster signature. Rhythm section and guitar bring the piece to a hushed close. An original Martini composition (“Trick”) has a palpable cool jazz swagger.  Martino’s lead is soulful feel. His extended solo has passion and expresses bluesy resonance.

“Close Your Eyes” is straight ahead jazz with hard bop swing cadences. Martino begins with an unaccompanied solo prior to the establishment of a rhythm structure. His brisk technique raises the intensity. Green answers at the 3:07 mark with equally furious runs. McBrowne is featured on some nimble drum fills. Again the “de-accelerated” finish is very effective.  The quartet switches gears for Bennie Golson’s haunting ballad, “Park Avenue Petit”. Backed by Green’s delicate piano, drummer Lenny McBrowne’s brush strokes and moody bass play by Ben Tucker, the atmospheric backdrop is perfectly complemented by Martino’s expressive interpretation. Taking on Coltrane is a daunting task, but Martino is up to the challenge with a high energy swing cover of “Lazy Bird”. Martino’s lines are dazzling in texture and intensity. Green also percolates, as Tucker and McBrowne are propulsive.

Pat MartinoEast! is a well-crafted jazz album. The arrangements are cohesive (even with a 12:44 opening track). The high resolution re-mastering brings outstanding clarity to the mix. The bass and drums stay at the bottom and never impinge on the guitar and piano. Martino’s guitar has a smooth tonality at all volume levels. The piano is captured with vintage acoustic integrity. East! stands the test of time.

TrackList: East; Trick; Close Your Eyes; Park Avenue Petit; Lazy Bird

–Robbie Gerson

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