For fans of jazz guitar, no one can compare to the legendary Pat Martino. Inspired by the likes of Johnny Smith and Wes Montgomery, the young Philadelphia native went out on the chitlin circuit when he was 15, refining his formidable chops in a variety of blues-drenched organ trio and hard bop formats. By the time he emerged as a leader in his early 20s, Martino was a major influence on a generation of exploratory young jazz guitarists, a creative curve that continued unabated until he was incapacitated by a life threatning brain tumour in 1981 (initiating a long recovery process which culminated in 1994's Interchange).
Consciousness, recorded in 1974 when he was 30 with the band Catalyst, remains a landmark in the annals of jazz guitar. With his extraordinary harmonic pallet and propulsive picking technique, Martino is able to transcend the guitar's limitations and sustain long melodic variations over breakneck bebop tempos a la John Coltrane, to particular effect on the later's "Impressions," Benny Golson's "Along Came Betty" and his own "On The Stairs." Martino's moody chords and supple octaves on "Willow" suggest the deep blue lyricism of Wes Montgomery, while his solo guitar turns on Joni Mitchell "Both Sides Now" and "Passata On Guitar" reflect the quiet dignity and classical grace of Johnny Smith. But it is on the title tune that he takes his boldest steps towards a new melodic language for guitar.
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1 Impressions (Coltrane) 4:33
2 Consciousness (Depaolo, Holland, Kloss) 11:48
3 Passata on Guitar (Martino) 2:48
4 Along Came Betty) (Golson 5:22
5 Willow (Martino) 6:09
6 On the Stairs (Martino) 5:29
7 Both Sides Now (Mitchell) 2:06
8 Along Came Betty [alt. take] (Golson) 5:16
Pat Martino - g
Eddie Green - el p [except Willow, just Percussion]
Tyrone Brown - b
Sherman Ferguson - dr & perc
Recorded at Generation Sound, New York ; October 7, 1974