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With Live at Yoshi's
, the 56-year-old Pat Martino, one of the great jazz-guitar stylists of the modern period, returns to the staggering form he showed on albums such as the 1974 Consciousness
. Martino lacks no subtlety--his command of melodic variation, his avoidance of cliché, is evidence of that--but this is unapologetically virtuosic music. In this classic club-trio setting Martino and organist Joey DeFrancesco come to burn. The fearsome articulation and continuous invention heard in "Impressions" on Consciousness
are revisited in "Oleo", the piece reaching a thrilling tension when Martino sustains a pedal lick before breaking into a glorious resolution. Drummer Billy Hart is less explicitly bravura, but his chops are evident in his cool, motoring drive and masterly punctuations. The repertoire is standard, ranging from the steaming swing of "Oleo" to the deep reflection of "Blue In Green", but whatever the context, Martino always turns the unexpected corner, sustaining interest as if these songs had just been written. Other albums since Martino survived a life-threatening cerebral aneurysm in 1980 have suggested the technique and confidence of old still eluded him, but it's hard to find a flaw here. --Mark Gilbert