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Think Tank

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Album Review

Guitarist Pat Martino has tempered his serpentine, machine-gun improvisational style over the years into a soft-focus graph-paper approach that lies somewhere between Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell. His playing, at once mathematically dense and puritanical in its economy, can impress with long bursts of harmonic complexity and stylistic flourishes that cross rockabilly-esque chicken scratch with ECM-style repetition. Unfortunately, for all his harmonic panache, Martino never really commands the swing on the cerebral, blues-tinged, and ultimately disappointing Think Tank. Similar to his bandmate here, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, Martino floats over the rhythm section, dancing around the groove but never coupling with it. The result leaves drummer Lewis Nash flailing ineffectually as if to fill up space. Worse, bassist Christian McBride, largely renowned for his muscular and swinging approach, simply coasts along, his acoustic double bass over-miked into a slack drone. That said, the title track is an intriguing scientific theorem of a tune that Martino built out of the letters in John Coltrane's name. Even more engaging is the ballad "Sun on My Hands," in which pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Martino delicately play off each other in a kind of plaintive call and response that brings to mind Martino's dusky, reflective 1976 album We'll Be Together Again. Think Tank isn't a bad album; it just contains a few too many ideas that probably sounded better in theory than they do in practice.


Born: August 25, 1944 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the most original of the jazz-based guitarists to emerge in the 1960s, Pat Martino made a remarkable comeback after brain surgery in 1980 to correct an aneurysm caused him to lose his memory and completely forget how to play. It took years, but he regained his ability, partly by listening to his older records. Martino began playing professionally when he was 15. He worked early on with groups led by Willis Jackson, Red Holloway, and a series of organists, including Don Patterson, Jimmy Smith,...
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Think Tank, Pat Martino
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Sep 16, 2003

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