Pat Martino Trio @ Ronnie Scott’s

The Spiritual Man – Pat Martino Trio @ Ronnie Scott’s – 12.05.15

Words: Erminia Yardley
Photos: Carl Hyde

Another sold out night at Ronnies. The legendary Pat Martino suavely walks onto stage and all is quiet. With him are Pat Bianchi who will be on the Hammond B3 organ and Carmen Intorre on drums.

The audience is a mix of young and old and never so attentive and eager to listen. A lot of nodding heads and not just in the crowd, but with the staff at Ronnies, too. Immediate attention is given to this slender, at times frail-looking man who is, after all, one of the greatest jazz guitarists ever. And quite rightly so. I am sitting next to a lovely gentleman who declares his complete adoration for Pat, he has travelled from Brighton AND has attended both nights (11th and 12th May). Chatting to a fan like Niall is a real treat, his eyes lit up when talking about Martino’s music. He is prepared to walk back home once he gets to Brighton as he knows it will be very late by the time he steps off the train and yet he says this with such nonchalance as if it really doesn’t matter. He is here to watch the great Pat Martino. Nothing else matters. A true devotee.

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The first set opens with the great rhythm of “Lean Years” (from the original album “Strings!” which was recorded back in 1967 in New York). The trio is playing smoothly, there is an “entente cordiale” amongst them, notes are floating around the dimly lit room that is Ronnies, but one can see the audience is almost staring in awe and admiration at the great man with the slick guitar. Another memorable track from the first set is “Alone Together” (H. Dietz-A.Schwartz composition) from the album “The Visit” (1972) which in itself is a must have and was “Inspired by and dedicated to Wes Montgomery”. “Sentimental Mood” is outstanding, played with such subtlety and languid tunes. It gets one in a pensive mood, but as soon as one does, “Mac Tough” appears on the horizon and snaps you back into the groove. An important track from the “Stone Blue” album of 1998 on Blue Note. Marking a return to form by the great Martino after suffering from AVM and having to undergo surgery in the late 70s.

All along during the first set, Pat Bianchi on B3 has offered some outstanding solos: he has had some wicked ways with the B3 and whoever suggests in future that jazz solos should be shortened needs to go and watch Pat “B3” Bianchi live!
Long live the long solos!

All along the first set, Pat Martino has played at his best on his beautiful black Benedetto guitar which carries Pat’s signature on the front. The “Pat Martino Signature Model” is stunning and took almost a year of collaboration between Bob Benedetto, maker of great jazz guitars, and Pat to come up with the final product. This is a guitar specially designed for Pat, with the most incredible body, fingerboard, looking particularly stunning on stage.
When the second set starts, “Full House” is played which, considering the club is at full capacity, is quite an apt rendition of the original by the fabulous Wes Montgomery.

Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” follows. This in itself is a treat, but I am bias… I am a Shorter fan!

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Pat Martino has played almost crouched on this guitar for most part of the evening so far, he has introduced the band mid-way through the first set and does it again in the second. He plays as if in a trance-like state, completely immersed in his music and his instrument. A luxurious state of affairs, he is a genius offering the audience a tranche of his craft on the night.

When “Oleo” concludes the second set, the audience is set for a treat. A sad realization the show is almost over, but what a show. Pat Martino’s fingers fly over his guitar strings. The Trio’s smooth playing has been in equal balance to an attentive and appreciative crowd.

When interviewing Martino before the show, one thing was certain above all others, he is one of the greatest jazz guitarists, but most of all, he is a very humble man, a softly-spoken man who has traversed the hard terrain of a serious illness and come out through to the other side in an even better shape. An honour to watch the show, a double hounor to interview such a legend!

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