Alternative Guitar Summit: Honoring Pat Martino, Volume 1

Fourteen guitarists, including Adam Rogers, Peter Bernstein, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Oz Noy and Dave Stryker, hail the pioneering string-slinger

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Surely one of the main influencers in the popularity of jazz guitar was the late Pat Martino, who passed away on 1 November 2021. Martino was highly influenced by Wes Montgomery as his tribute album to the maestro attests (Blue Note, 2006).

Jimi Hendrix of course turned on a lot of rock-soon-to-be-jazz guitarists at roughly the same time as Martino’s debut album El Hombre (Prestige, 1967) was released and there have been many tribute recordings to Jimi including Stone Free (Reprise, 1993). But rarely, if ever, was there a tribute compilation album that achieved near artistic parity with the musician it aimed to lionise. Honoring Pat Martino, Volume 1, however, does just that.

Alternative Guitar Summit, assembled during 2021’s lockdown, saw 14 virtuoso guitarist pay homage to Martino in a video-streamed recording; thankfully, Martino, only months from death, was able to witness it. This recording clearly reflects the ever-burgeoning roll-call of truly gifted jazz guitarists out there, and this is only Volume 1.

The performances throughout are brilliantly executed and indelibly memorable, generating inevitable earworms. Importantly, it should be noted that all the tunes but one are Martino penned, demonstrating that his compositional skill matched his playing.

All the tracks feature electric guitarists except Line Games, where Fareed Haque’s forceful single-note attack via his flamenco guitar really does emulate the master. Kurt Rosenwinkel’s rendition of Black Glass is simply breathtaking, even more so considering he played his own seamless bass and drum parts. Sheryl Bailey and Ed Cherry’s octave-rich version of Willow is spine-tinglingly hypnotic and Nir Felder and Oz Noy’s reading of Joyous Lake is a veritable tour de force. Whilst acknowledging that Martino is irreplaceable, this album goes a long way to invoking the true spirit of this guitarists’ guitarist.

Discography
(1) Inside Out; (2) Black Glass; (3) Line Games; (4) Willow; (5) Noshufuru; (6) Lament; (7) On The Stairs; (8) Joyous Lake; (9) Country Road (59.10)
(1) Adam Rogers, Peter Bernstein (elg).
(2) Kurt Rosenwinkel (elg, elb, d).
(3) Fareed Haque (g); Kevin Kozol (kyb); Alex Austin (b); Greg Fundis (d); Richard Christian (tab).
(4) Sheryl Bailey, Ed Cherry (elg).
(5) Rez Abbasi, Jeff Miles (elg).
(6) Russell Malone (elg).
(7) Dave Stryker, Paul Bollenback (elg).
(8) Nir Felder, Oz Noy (elg). Chulo Gatewood (b); Tobias Ralph (d).
(9) Joel Harrison (elg).
(1) (4) (5) (7) add Dezron Douglas (b) and Allan Mednard (d).
New York City and other locations, 20 March 2021 and other dates.
HighNote Records HCD7333