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Pat Martino has certainly had more than his share of ups and downs: after establishing himself as one of jazz's outstanding guitarists and a major influence on such younger players as Pat Metheny, he suffered a brain tumor that forced him to relearn the instrument. Now that he has come all the way back, it's even more interesting to see where he started with El Hombre, his 1967 debut as a leader. A Philadelphian, Martino worked steadily in the organ combos so popular in the region's jazz clubs, earning his bones as a sideman for Jack McDuff, Richard "Groove" Holmes and Don Patterson, and this date reflects that background, with organist Trudy Pitts serving as Martino's primary foil. As its title suggests, El Hombre has a decidedly Latin tinge, employing flute, conga, and bongo for a soulful bossa sound that, while currently out of vogue, proves remarkably winning. From the opening "Waltz for Geri," Martino establishes himself as a confidently swinging yet breezily relaxed player, and turns in some of his best performances on the title cut and the extended "A Blues for Mickey-O." For guitar fans unfamiliar with Martino's work, El Hombre is a revelation. --Fred Goodman
Top Customer Reviews
Pat Martino is a favorite of mine, but it took me a while to work back to this album. The guy just oozes musicality here. His playing is relaxed and nimble, his tone clean and liquid. Like Pass and Montgomery, Martino's licks seem to come out of him with a seemingly effortless instinct. You can't learn to talk with your instrument like this--you are born with it.
Trudy Pitts is the perfect match for him on organ. Her sound changes and dynamics are fabulous, always enhancing and complementing the guitar, never crowding it. She also gets sounds out of the Hammond B-3 that you don't hear from other famous players. At one point I was wondering if she was in fact playing a B-3, and not a Wurlitzer, or something.
Drummer Mitch Fine really drives this group along, swinging with the command of a Blakey or Jones and, again, ornamenting but not stepping on the soloists. I'll have to keep an eye out for other records he appeared on.
Rounding this out with flute and Latin percussion gives the record a real nice mix of styles and sounds. I only wish it were longer, but I imagine there weren't any left-over tracks lying around in the vault.
Do yourself a favor. If you are at all partial to Sixties organ combo jazz, snap this baby up. You'll be grooving in no time flat.
The compositions and arrangements are great, especially if you have a love of latin jazz. You get the latin rhythm section and flute...such a beautiful sound.
The album has such power because it is delivered with so much groove and finesse; and it just sounds really, really good. Probably my fav of the discography.
I have rarely heard a guitarist play with such assurance. It's as if he knows exactly where he is going, what notes he is going to play, and how to build a solo to a perfect climax well in advance. Impeccable technique - every note is clean, even in the fastest passages. And the ensemble is on fire! The organ playing exciting, the percussion section right on. Even the flutist (one of my least favorite instruments outside of a classical context) adds alot to the sound with some great solos and duets with the guitar. The only problem I have now is saving money for the next Martino CD.
A gotta-have for any guitarist, jazz lover or not.