With four solo albums under his belt, Pat Martino was considered one of the ’60s most exciting new jazz guitar voices. As the decade ended, the 23-year-old was a third of an organ trio led by 30-year-old B-3 virtuoso Gene Ludwig. Tapes capturing their onstage ﬁreworks at Club 118 in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1968/’69 remained in Martino’s personal stash until cleaned up and now released.
A 13-minute-plus “Who Can I Turn To” kicks off the set with easygoing soloing from both before Martino goes full-throttle on John Coltrane’s “Mr. PC,” unleashing waves of dazzling, incandescent, single-note passages. Wes Montgomery’s inﬂuence looms large on “Sam Sack,” a 1961 tune Milt Jackson and Montgomery recorded, and “Close Your Eyes,” a song Martino had only recently recorded on his 1968 East album.
Martino’s mastery of octaves dominates “Watch What Happens” and an early interpretation of Montgomery’s “Road Song,” which Martino formally recorded in 1972. “Colossus,” an intense, never-recorded Martino original musically similar to “The Great Stream,” runs nearly 12 minutes.
The album also proves a worthy showcase for the bebop-minded Ludwig, active until his death in 2010. Young Guns captures the interplay of two future jazz masters in their youth, both loose, swinging, and hell-bent for leather.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s July ’14 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.