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Alternative Guitar Summit: Honoring Pat Martino, Volume 1

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Alternative Guitar Summit: Honoring Pat Martino, Volume 1
Each year the Alternative Guitar Summit, led by Joel Harrison, presents a concert to honor a living jazz composer/guitarist. That wasn't possible in 2021, however, as venues in and around New York City were shuttered tight by the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, it was clear that the chosen honoree, the great Pat Martino, was gravely ill and might not have another year to live. With that in mind, members of the Summit took their guitars straight to a studio to record the tribute, live-streaming their performances so that Martino and his wife could see, hear and appreciate them. The recording was completed in October 2021; Martino passed away on November 1.

Fourteen guitarists including Harrison lent their talents to the event, and eight of the nine numbers on offer were written by Martino (the ninth, J.J. Johnson's melancholy "Lament," is beautifully played by Russell Malone). Adam Rogers and Peter Bernstein start the ball rolling with Martino's groovy "Inside Out," and Harrison closes the session with a solo rendition of the easygoing "Country Road." Sandwiched between with Malone are Kurt Rosenwinkel ("Black Glass"), Fareed Haque ("Line Games"), Sheryl Bailey and Ed Cherry ("Willow"), Rez Abbasi and Jeff Miles ("Noshufuru"), Dave Stryker and Paul Bollenback ("On the Stairs"), Nir Felder and Oz Noy ("Joyous Lake"). And according to Harrison, this is only Volume 1!

As guitar enthusiasts surely know, Pat Martino had not one but two equally successful careers at the top of his game. The first was ended in 1980 by a near-fatal brain aneurysm that robbed Martino of his memory, forcing him to relearn not only his past life but how to play the guitar again. "I had to start from Square 1," he said later. But start he did, and owing to his resilience and determination was performing again by the mid-1980s, and by 1987 had released a new album. During his rewarding careers, Martino proved he was not only a virtuosic player but a superb composer as well, a fact that becomes crystal clear as this fond remembrance unfolds. The melodies are consistently engaging, the rhythms crisp and colorful, the performers earnest and on point.

It's impossible to choose a favorite number, as each one has innumerable charms to admire. The same is true of the players, whether solo or in tandem, and with or without a rhythm section. Rosenwinkel even brought his own, overdubbing himself on bass and drums. For those who love guitars in general and Pat Martino in particular, it doesn't get much better than this. Stay tuned, Harrison writes, for Volume 2.

Track Listing

Inside Out; Black Glass; Line Games; Willow; Noshufuru; Lament; On the Stairs; Joyous Lake; Country Road.

Personnel

Rez Abbasi: guitar, acoustic; Sheryl Bailey: guitar; Peter Bernstein: guitar; Paul Bollenback: guitar; Ed Cherry: guitar; Nir Felder: guitar; Fareed Haque: guitar; Joel Harrison: guitar, electric; Russell Malone: guitar, electric; Jeff Miles: guitar; Oz Noy: guitar; Adam Rogers: guitar; Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar; Dave Stryker: guitar; Dezron Douglas: bass; Allan Mednard: drums; Kevin Kozol: keyboards; Alex Austin: bass; Greg Fundis: drums; Richard Christian: tablas.

Additional Instrumentation

Chulo Gatewood: bass; Tobias Ralph: drums

Album information

Title: Honoring Pat Martino, Volume 1 | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: HighNote Records

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