Pat Martino – Live at Yoshi’s

Pat Martino Pat Martino
(Blue Note – 2001)
by John Barrett

After 40 years in show business, Pat Martino returns to the organ trio, the format where he first made his name in jazz. (He’s played with the best: McDuff, Earland, Groove Holmes, and the wonderful Trudy Pitts.) “Oleo” skips along; the theme’s slightly altered but the mood is right there. Martino is fast as usual, giving the notes a sweet ring; where his version on 1970’s Desperado was tart, this one is sunny, like his tone on El Hombre.

Speaking of that album, here’s the title track: Joey DeFrancesco starts softly, avoiding the heavy chords of the original. Martino is strong, swirling fast over Billy Hart’s thunder. DeFrancesco stays gentle, and quieter than is normal for him. Come his solo, he starts percussive (like McDuff or Jimmy Smith) and then he screams, uproariously. “Mac Tough” finds Pat deep and lowdown, twanging like a funky bass. Hart covers him in cymbals, a soft explosion while the strings begin to boil. This is old-style ‘Sixties “people music” … and this people likes it a lot.

DeFrancesco is first on “You’re Welcome to a Prayer”, playing a cold lonely blues. Hart stirs a little rain, and in comes Martino: hopeful, contemplative, and sweet. His tone is seldom this pure, his steps so relaxed; Joey responds with some church chords. (“Blue in Green” has the same mood, though sadder.) The guitar buzzes through “Recollection” (Pat hops up and down the scale – perhaps his strongest solo) and “Catch” ends the session with a taste of hard bop. Martino stabs, Hart slashes, and Joey dots a few chords in the background – a simple approach, but it works. It’s been a while since I’ve heard an organ trio of such power – you’ll love it.