The guitar master is at it again on this collection of original tunes. Mixing up bop and funk with heavy doses of pop, he offers up a very listenable album with lots of character. Standout tracks include the fat beat of "Mac Tough" and the evocative "With All The People."
Guitarist Pat Martino exhibits his long-standing appreciation for the urban lifestyle of New York City and Philadelphia on his latest album Stone Blue. That cocky feeling of self-assurance one develops from living and working in the city gives rise to strutted rhythms, deliberate tempos, and melodies that range from sixteenth-note-laden confetti clusters to dreamy skyborne shouts. Sharing the front line with tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, Martino presents nine of his compositions with the support of keyboardist Delmar Brown, bassist James Genus and drummer Kenwood Dennard. You can find complete biographical information about guitarist Pat Martino at http://www.patmartino.com/ .
Genus' six-string electric bass and Dennard's cymbal ride drive the album; all but one piece are presented up-tempo with an emphasis on deliberate rhythms and front line conversation. Alexander's tenor saxophone voice is earthy and confident, while Martino's guitar enthuses with its desire to speak out. Together, they gel as one voice. The ballad "Never Say Goodbye" is a tearful dedication to guitarist Michael Hedges, who passed away last November in a tragic automobile accident at the age of 43. Over twenty years ago, while Martino was recovering from brain surgery, Hedges visited him in the hospital and played for him at his bedside.
Other dedications on the album include nods to Wes Montgomery and Jack McDuff. "13 To Go" and "Mac Tough" include organ romps from Brown. "Joyous Lake" is a happy tune that was originally recorded in 1977 just before Martino's ten-year hiatus. Adhering to the album's urban theme, the arrangement juxtaposes a Brazilian carnival backdrop with lyrical offerings from guitarist, saxophonist, and keyboardist. An overt enthusiasm and hearty front line drive Martino's latest album through timeless city streets. Recommended.
-01. Uptown Down 4:25
-02. Stone Blue 6:46
-03. With All the People 9:15
-04. 13 to Go 7:27
-05. Boundaries 8:09
-06. Never Say Goodbye 3:40
-07. Mac Tough 6:13
-08. Joyous Lake 13:26
-09. Two Weighs Out 0:33
* Kenwood Dennard - Percussion, Drums
* Eric Alexander - Saxophone, Sax (Tenor)
* Delmar Brown - Keyboards, Vocals
* Michael Cuscuna - Producer, Liner Notes
* James Genus - Bass, Bass (Electric)
* Pat Martino - Guitar