Pat Martino

I picked up two old-school Pat Martino albums on e-bay earlier this month. One of the albums was on my mental "look for" list for a while and I'd poke around the usual places every now and then to see what there was. The usual going price for a good quality version was maybe $30-$50 or so. So when I saw a seller selling a copy of Consciousness for $17 on ebay, I thought I'd take a look. He was actually selling a couple of Pat Martino albums so I also took a look at Footprints which was released a year later. Both were listed as "Near Mint" and was best-offer, so I offered 2 dollars less than the listed price. To my surprise, both my offers were accepted and money was transferered and that was that.

Consciousness is a 1974 album released by Muse, it only has 1 LP release. Immediately after taking it out, it looked flawless. Maybe it was VPI cleaned or something but there weren't any fingerprints or blemishes on the vinyl at all. Played it through once and it sounded great, as far as I'm concerned, it looked and sounded mint.

Footprints is a 1975 album released by Muse, there's apparently also a Promo version of the Muse pressing of the same year. However, this album was actually first released by a label called Cobblestone under the title The Visit, after the first track. which was released in 1972. Like the Consciousness album, this one was also pristine and sounded like it was mint. The only knock against it was that it was slightly warped, just enough to notice that it wasn't completely flat when you played it. Not a big deal and it really didn't seem to affect the sound.

Both of these albums contain a lot of Pat Martino's standard material. Songs like "Consciousness", "Alone Together", "Footprints", "Willow", "Along Came Betty, and "Impressions" would show up on live recordings and compilations for decades. I say "standard" because some of his previous albums were more spacey and open (like "East" and "Baiyina") or a bit more traditional in the fusion sense (like El Hombre and Desperado, where he played with Eric Kloss). He has a pretty unique style, which has always been the case, the very exact notes that make up his lines usually with no hint of swing, but I think the early-mid 70's was when he put together some of the best albums and songs. He also did a lot of work with the saxophonist Eric Kloss who also recorded an album called "Consciousness" in 1970 with Pat Martino, where they do a great 7/8 version of Donovan's Sunshine Superman (you can skip to around 3min to hear Martino's solo, if for some reason you didn't want to hear Eric Kloss' solo).

As most fans already know, Pat Martino suffered a brain aneurysm in 1980 which left him with amnesia and he had forgotten the music he recorded and how to play guitar. Understandably, it was quite a shock and he was near-suicidal, but through a unique form of therapy, he listened to his old recordings (like Consciousness) and relearned how to play the guitar. I've gone to see him play several times and he sells a DVD of his story. I'm not sure how different his music is now compared to before, but he's been pretty fixed into the trio with a Hammond organ. And I think that kind of line-up works well for his music. I remember an old roommate of mine used to remark that a lot of my Martino albums sounds like some badass guitarist playing with a bunch of mediocre musicians. Not to knock the other musicians but his guitar is usually what's front and center, so I can sort of understand how the rest of the musicians can seem like jobbers. This is why I think the trio is a great setup for Pat Martino, he's got all this room to work with and it never sounds like the drums and organ are there just to support him.

Consciousness was actually the very first time I've heard of Pat Martino. Back in college, I was taking a Jazz performance minor to satisfy my fine arts requirement which required 4 semesters of Jazz studio, or, 1-on-1 lessons. I was fortunate enough to have taken them with Eric Kloss, but he was sick a lot of the weeks when I had my lessons so we had to make up the classes over the summer and I'd drive out to his house out past Ross Township. He had a pretty crazy place, many rooms filled from floor to ceiling with tapes, records, CD's, even 8-tracks and reels. After one lesson, he told me that I should listen to this guy he used to play with and try to pick up on some of the things he does, and he lends me a Pat Martino "Consciousness" LP. I listened to it several times but I was going to be leaving for the rest of the Summer and it was my last lesson, and I didn't want to end up forgetting to return it. So on one particularly hot July afternoon, I make the drive all the way over to his house to drop it off. When I get there, there wasn't anyone home so I was just going to leave it in his doorway, but to my horror, the record got warped from the sun while it was in my car. I didn't even have a pen to leave a note for him. I tried to find another copy to replace the one that I damaged but this was before there were websites that sold stuff so you had to go around (e.g. to Jerry's Records) to find a copy of it and I was never successful. Getting in touch with Eric Kloss isn't easy to do either because he doesn't answer the phone, so I was never able to replace the record, still feel incredibly bad to this day about how that ended.

Filed under: Music