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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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HighNote HCD 7231



1. Lean Years
2. Inside Out
3. Goin' To A Meeting
4. Double Play
5. Midnight Special
6. 'Round Midnight
7. Side Effect

Pat Martino - Guitar
Eric Alexander - Tenor sax
Tony Monaco - Organ
Jeff "Tain" Watts - Drums.


You might say that Pat Martino returns to his roots with this album, recorded live in 2009 at Blues Alley in Washington. Early in his career, Martino played as guitarist with organ groups led by the likes of Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff and Richard "Groove" Holmes. Here he returns to the organ group format, with the addition of Eric Alexander, whose saxophone blends well in harmony with the organ and guitar. He adds extra punch to several tracks, which is augmented by Jeff Watts' potent drumming.

But the main attraction is Pat Martino with his enviable technique and dexterity. His brilliance might be overwhelming except that his blues sensibility gives a firm grounding to his solos. In fact several of the tracks (all but one composed by Martino) are blues, and Pat's single lines express genuine bluesiness. And there is variety within the blues themes: from the up-tempo Lean Years via the nonchalant Inside Out to the smouldering Double Play (with Jeff Watts apparently playing four-in-a-bar bass drum, a neglected rhythm). The audience understandably applauds Martino's potent riffing in the midst of his solo on Double Play.

Martino is featured throughout Thelonious Monk's 'Round Midnight, taking it at a thoughtful pace, with octaves reminding us of the influence of Wes Montgomery. The final track is a good-natured blues which swings along comfortably.

The CD contains only seven tracks, but none of them lasts for less than seven minutes, conveying the leisurely club ambiance. This album is a must for all guitarists but also very desirable for anyone who appreciates good jazz played with skill and sensitivity.

Tony Augarde

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