Pat Martino – Think Tank
(Blue Note – 2003)
by John Thompson
Let me get my one complaint out of the way. There is a new saying going around which claims, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” I love the player. The “game” is an over-electrified acoustic bass. Now, on to guitarist Pat Martino and his Blue Note release “Think Tank.” With the guitar as the front instrument I will definitely recommend this cd to a guitar player, but I’m also going to highly recommend this to any Hard Bop lover.
While listening to the music, one would never guess that, in 1980, Martino had brain surgery that caused him to lose his memory. Also, he had to re-learn to play his instrument. Martino emerged in the 1960’s and has been a guitarist for groups led by Jimi Smith, Richard “Groove” Holmes, and Red Holloway. One thing for sure is that, despite the aneurysm, we are listening to a guitar master.
Martino displays brilliant tone, dazzling chops, fitting chromatic scales and arpeggios to create paths and incorporate the creativities of other band members. They include an all-star lineup: Joe Lovano (TS), Gonzalo Rubalcaba (P) and “super sizes” Christian McBride (B) and Lewis Nash (D).
My favorites are as follows: “The Phineas Trane,” “Dozen Down,” “Quatessence,” and “Earthlings” are three bop tunes injected with greasy musical ingredients. Due to the energy created, play these in your car on the freeway, and you are almost sure to surpass the speed limits. Coltrane’s modal form “Africa” feature Martino displaying a full court press style solo, while Nash blitz’ with Tony Williams-ish attacks. Lovano and Rubalcaba do not go out of the scope with their solos but add enough expression to round things out. Check out McBride’s technique during his solo on “Quatessence.”
One of the main things I admire about this cd is that, as a lead instrument, the guitar is definitely out front leading the charge and the songs are long enough for everyone to fairly partake in it’s development. 41/2 stars.