JJ 01/92: Pat Martino – The Return

Thirty years ago Mark Gilbert hailed Martino's renewed mastery of the guitar, seven years after a cerebral aneurysm decimated his musical memory. First published in Jazz Journal January 1992


Jazz guitar fanciers who recall Pat Martino’s astonishing improvisa­tion on Impressions a few years back will welcome the news that he is back on the boards again. Recorded live at Fat Tuesday’s in New York, this set marks Mar­tino’s return to serious public per­formance and is his first recording since his memory was devastated in 1980 by a cerebral aneurysm and subsequent surgery.

After two and a half years’ rehabili­tation, during which he reacquainted himself with his playing through listening to his record­ings, Martino began to consider a return, easing into unpublicised gigs in New Jersey under his real name, Pat Azzara. Finally he felt ready for a headline gig in New York.

If the results do not exactly equal a return to top form, Mar­tino’s handicap at least makes it a relative triumph. He plays long and hard over these standard-based originals, and though the precision and speed which distin­guished his earlier playing are absent, there’s no mistaking either his passion or commitment to the search for expression.

As the notes indicate, Steve LaSpina was unprepared for either the rep­ertoire or Pat’s volume, and it shows in various lapses of group integration, but Martino’s urgency, and the kind of discove­ries he makes on Turnpike, make the session worth an investiga­tion, especially for Martino followers.

Do You Have A Name?; Slipback; All That You Have; Turnpike (44.05)
Martino (g); Steve LaSpina (b); Joey Baron (d). Fat Tuesday’s, New York, February, 1987.
(Vogue 600621)