Solo Sound Clip:
See Steve's Hand-Written Solo Transcription
Pat Martino's solo on:
"The Breeze and I"(Lecuona-Stillman)
It is almost hard to believe that in 1976, Pat Martino recorded his one true Fusion LP as leader. It was titled, "JOYOUS LAKE"(Warner Bros.) and featured: Delmar Brown(Keys); Mark Leonard(El. Bass); and Kenwood Dennard(Drums). The textures and the high energy levels were very much in tune with the music produced during the decade of the '70s. However, in sharp contrast to Pat's previous work, here he experimented with other guitar sonorities and tone colors which included: some overdrive, a touch-wah, and a guitar synth. These sounds are in addition to his 'normal' jazz guitar sound. I only mention this recording because, just one year later, on December 21st, 1977, Martino found himself recording with one of his old bandleaders, saxophonist Willis Jackson for his recording, "BAR WARS"(Muse), which features: Charles Earland(Organ); Idris Muhammad(Drums); and Buddy Caldwell(Conga). The stark contrast between the music and Pat's tone on this recording is what is so striking.
The Joe Fields produced session was recorded at Van Gelder Studios, with the great Rudy Van Gelder, of course, behind the console. Perhaps, this alone accounts for the fact that Pat's tone, where 'pure' jazz guitar is concerned, is just superb, as you will hear when you listen to the soundclip offered here. All Fusion experiments aside, it just seems that Pat Martino was born to sound like this, to play like this. As virtually everyone knows, Pat plays with super heavy gauge strings and a very dark, full-bodied tone. But, the art of recording is very different from the sound which might be acceptable in a club or a bar. This is why, in my opinion, the best recordings of Pat's sound were captured by engineers like Richard Alderson and, the aforementioned, Rudy Van Gelder. Aside from their audio expertise, it is my sense that they were probably able to convince Pat to brighten-up his tone before recording. This is a most important detail! The reason being, and I often have to be reminded of this as well, is that when one gets to the mixing stage, it is far easier to 'warm-up' the sound, make an instrument a little darker sounding, than it is to 'brighten-up' the sound. If you are adding treble frequencies to your mix, you are also adding noise to the sonic palette and no one wants that!!! So, in my humble opinion, even though this recording, as a sideman, was made some 10 years after those which brought Pat Martino such acclaim, he sounds as good here as you will hear anywhere.
I have always had a great affection for "The Breeze and I" perhaps because Wes Montgomery recorded it on his classic organ trio LP, "BOSS GUITAR" and also, because I just love the version on "CHILE CON SOUL" by the Jazz Crusaders. The latter has a Latin flavor to it with a brilliant rhythmic approach provided by the great Clare Fischer. What is most striking to me about the Willis "Gator Tail" Jackson version is the incredible swing produced by Charlie Earland and Idris Muhammad. I just love the bounce of Earland's bass lines and the tone and pulse of Muhammad's ride cymbal. These elements are perfection to these ears. Place a Pat Martino solo in the middle and you have something which merits listening and study. As it is performed here, the tune has a 32-bar form and, I suppose that I could have indicated the form by having it be an [A] and [A2], each with 8 bars, but then, to me, I would still refer to the 2nd 16 bars as a [B], because nothing in this section resembles the [A] sections. So here, the end result is that I have just labeled the form as: [A][B]. It is also interesting to note that during the melody statement and under Willis Jackson's tenor sax solo, bar 5-6 are played as Ebmaj7. But, as you'll see and hear, during Pat Martino's 2-chorus solo, those same bars are treated as a C7(#9) chord. As we take a closer look at the specifics of this solo, we will return to those bars.
Martino begins this solo, as he often does, with a very melodic 2-bar phrase which answers itself over the first 4 bars. As he continues into the 2nd 8 bars, he utilizes a fragment of the basic melody. This is always a nice touch and a basic element of an improvisation born of the development from melodic material. This is often forgotten or overlooked by those player who might be more concerned with demonstrated their command of the instrument, which is not the most important concern! I promised to get back to the improvising approach to bar 5-6, and here we are. Remember that, as played during the melody, the basic chord is an Ebmaj7, but for Martino's choruses, organist Earland plays C7(#9). Pat Martino's lines here indicate that he is employing the C altered dominant scale(C, Db, Eb, E, Gb, Ab, Bb). But remember that this scale is also often thought of by players as Db melodic minor(Db, Eb, Fb, Gb, Ab, Bb, C). Just remember that E-natural and Fb(as I have spelled it in the transcription) are the same notes. As the 2nd 8-bars arrives, Earland punctuates the section with an Fmaj7 on beat 1 and then just relies on his left-hand bass lines to indicate the harmony. Here, in bars 13-14, his bass notes indicate that he is now using the melody change of Ebmaj7. From an soloing perspective, this sonority could be treated in a variety of ways, and often times, savvy players play lines which would make one believe that the actual chord could have been a dominant 7th chord, in this case, Eb7(9), rather than what is being played. Martino vaults into bars 13-14 by anticipating the chord change with his lines in bar 12, and those lines indicate that he is 'thinking' of his lines for this chordal sound as Bb Dorian(Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, G, Ab). It is one of those fascinating oddities that the lines sound so great even though the chord, as indicated, contains a D-natural, and the lines contain a Db. Yet, because Earland plays no chords in these bars, there is no clash whatsoever and the approach from the soloist could have played lines which might indicate either chord. It is a great option to have and to take advantage of.
As [B] of Chorus 1 arrives, the tune provides us with a series of 'turnarounds' which basically look like this:
|| Gm7 / / / | C7(alt.) / / / | Fmaj7(9) / / / | [ D7(alt.) / / / ] ||
For the student of Jazz, this is one of the most essential chord progressions to master! Martino plays through the first 3 bars in a very diatonic manner beginning with Gm7(9) arpeggios. To "turn the progression around" in bar 4 of the section over the D7(alt.), he employs the standard linear device which would put to use G harmonic minor(G, A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F#). What is so fascinating about this scale over an altered dominant 7th chord, here D7(alt.), is that, generally speaking, one should never play the suspension(the 4th), in this case G-natural, over this type of chord. But here, when creating a cadence to a minor 7 chord, it works beautifully. During the 2nd 4 bars of [B], Pat again approaches bar 5 very much as G Dorian, and in bar 6, over the C7(alt.), you see Db's on beat 1 which is, of course, the b9 and creates the proper amount of tension to drive to resolution on the Imaj7 chord of this key, F major. This time, he turns around the progression in bar 8 by also putting to use the b9, in this case an Eb, over the D7(alt.) chord. In bar 9, he vaults right up a Gm7(9) arpeggio, but, in bar 10, I believe that Pat has an 'accident' and played his open B-string. I'm certain that he didn't mean to do that there because it is not even function as a lower neighbor to our root, C-natural. Over bars 11-12, he plays a very simple diatonic motif in F major over both Am7 and D7(alt.). This kind of device also always works well and enables the player to sound very "melodic" to many listeners. Yet, this approach needs to be blended with the usage of altered tones and scales over the dominant 7th chords, or things could get stale over a longer solo. This 1st chorus closes as Pat just plays a mid-register F-natural, our root in this key, and sits within the groove. He does this with a bent note device to create a unison F-natural by bending up an Eb from his G-string. Again, it is a very effective and allows the rhythm section to dig hard into the sense of swing!
Pat rockets himself into Chorus 2 by playing a very nice blues-oriented lick which melds right into a 6 straight bars of streaming double-time 8th-notes. Over the first 4 bars of Fmaj7, you can see that everything played is totally diatonic and avoids Bb's. No Bb appears until bar 3. Once again, in bars 5-6, Charles Earland plays C7(#9) and Martino anticipates the arrival of this change with an Eb in the 4th bar. The linear approach to playing over this C7(alt.) sonority is by using Bb Dorian(Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, G, Ab). And if you were to compare that mode to C altered dominant or Db melodic minor(Db, Eb, Fb, Gb, Ab, Bb, C), you will find that only two notes differ: F/Fb and G/Gb. In this case, G-natural, the 5th, is not a bad note at all, though not an altered tone. It is, quite simply a chord tone of C7 and that's fine! I want to point out the little 'mannerism' on beat 1 of bar 3. This figure with a grouping of 3 16th-note triplets and a single 8th-note is often associated with the great Bebop players, like Charlie Parker. If you look through a book of melodies or solos, you will see this mannerism constantly. In my opinion, it is crucial to learn how to execute this kind of figure on the guitar. You want to be able to play this figure over and over, and over again until it has completely filtered into your being and you no longer have to think about, it will just come out, as if you were speaking. And you are speaking a language here!!! As Pat begins the 2nd 8 bars of this chorus, he puts to use another tried and true device of just riding a single note with swingin' time and forceful accents. This is also a part of the greater Jazz tradition and more than this, part of the great organ trio vocabulary. Riding on a riff, riding on a single note is a huge element in this style. On the guitar, this is accomplished by finger the note(in this case, a G-natural) on both your G-string and B-string and alternating the strokes as your own sensibilities would dictate. Again, in bars 13-14, Earland plays no chords, just the bass line, and Martino's lines clearly indicate that he is putting to use the Bb Dorian mode. Only on the last two beats of bar 14, does he arpeggiate a C7b9 to create a cadence to Fmaj7.
Coming from his upper register, Pat uses a familiar device from his vocabulary to shoot himself into the final letter [B]. The line begins on his high A-natural through the G-natural and, when he hits the F-natural, he slides down to E-natural for beat 1 of bar 1 of the section. During the second-half of the bar, I believe that it would be more normal, in Martino's language, that he would have played Bb-D-F-A, but for some reason, an Eb spoke instead of the D-natural. In bar 2, over the C7(alt.) chord, Pat touches upon the #5(Ab/G#) and the b9(Db). In bar 3, though the chord is an Am7, he is playing through the bar diatonically in F-major. Normally over the iiim7, you would not want to place too much emphasis on the root of the key. From the end of bar 4 through bar 8, he plays a very traditional blues lick. This one is worth talking about from a historical perspective. You have to remember that during the earliest days of the development of Jazz and a language for the genre, the guitar was pretty much a 2nd-class citizen. And so, the language essentials were created by the trumpet, sax and trombones, as well as the piano. So, when the guitar was finally allowed to break away from playing '4' on the guitar and to play some lines, the language was already in place. And so, the guitarists of that era had to graft on to their instrument these mannerisms. So, what Pat Martino is playing here comes directly from piano players and organists, always keep that in mind! It is played with the root of the key, in this case a higher F-natural, sustained above, while the blues lick is below it. Try removing the top/sustained note, and just play the blues lick. It should sound very, very familiar!
As his solo winds down through the final 8 bars of [B], he plays a nice lyrical idea in bar 9 over the Gm7, and then, once again, over the C7(alt.) chord, the only altered tone of emphasis is the b9(Db). In bar 12, over the D7(alt.), as he did during the 1st [B] section over this chord, he again employs the G harmonic minor beginning on C-natural. You might also want to pay special attention to his usage of chromatic lower neighboring tones to the roots of the chords. You will see F#-G over the Gm7, he also uses this same neighboring tone when passing through the C7(alt.) chord. You should also look for G#-A over the Am7. In bar 13, over the final C7(alt.) chord, Pat plays yet another traditional blues-oriented lick which highlights an F triad with the 4th, the sus(Bb), used as an upper neighbor to the 3rd of the chord, A-natural. The solo concludes with octaves C-natural and Db(b9) on strongly accented syncopations as he cadences to Fmaj7(9), and Charles Earland's organ solo begins.
When all is said and done, this is simply a wonderful solo, marked by the fact that here, Pat Martino's playing offers more moments of melodic connection than in other recorded solos. Often times, the perception can be that each solo does commence with a single lyrical phrase, but thereafter, it is often an endless stream of running double-time 8th-notes. Of course, at times, this can be most effective. But, when one is playing like that, it really leaves no space for any kind of group interaction. For me, that element should supersede individual concerns. Just something to think about! Above all, just enjoy this solo, and gather whatever information you can from what I've offered here.
As we say "Goodbye!" to 2008, we are hoping that everyone had a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a ¡FELIZ NAVIDAD! And, of course, now it is time to finally say, yet again, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Y por supuesto, les deseamos un muy ¡FELIZ AÑO NUEVO! Wishing you all good health, happiness, and please, PEACE everywhere!!! Looking forward to January 20th and a new beginning of us here in the USA!!!
[Photo of Pat Martino by: Don Schlitten
Photo of Charles Earland ca. 1972]