This is not the first time legendary guitarist Martino has paid tribute to the man credited with driving jazz guitar to its current heights. Back in 1972, he recorded a Wes Montgomery tribute album called The Visit that had just one Wes tune. Now the 61-year-old master, who has been through a few things himself, has released a batch of tunes associated with Wes, and not surprisingly, it cooks.
The songs here are instantly recognizable, but still, Martino makes them his own. The opener (“Four On Six”) is a perfect example; he states the theme and gets inside with his own feel. It’d be tough to find any jazzer, young or old, whose playing would be this hot and who has such a great tone. There’s a list of songs here you could say that about. He covers gems like “Groove Yard” and the breakneck bopper “Unit 7″ with a burning ease that tips the hat to Wes, but also serves to further Martino’s place in the pantheon of great players. “West Coast Blues” has him stating the head before the solo takes over. It’s at once blues, be-bop, and swing. To hear him rip through changes, give a listen to “Twisted Blues” and its unbelievable guitar break in the middle. If you ever questioned Martino’s chops, this will put your doubts to rest.
Martino has fine support here, too. Pianist David Kikoski provides great backing, and his solos are exquisite. And John Patitucci (bass) and Scott Allan Robinson (drums) drive the music. This is one that Pat – and Wes – can be proud of.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s July ’06 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.