You've seen it many times before and probably joined the fray a time or two. I'm talking about that never-ending debate on "Who is the greatest guitarist of all time?" Man, there are so many outstanding ones out there with so many different styles, how can you choose? I sure as heck won't, but the one who makes me shake my head in disbelief the most when I listen to him is Pat Azzara... also known as Pat Martino.
Martino's remarkable return to form after completely losing memory of the skill due to an operation to repair a brain aneurysm is a story unto itself. In fact, his records of late have been among his very best (Mark Saleski did a fine write-up on Pat's 2006 Wes Montgomery tribute CD just a few months ago). But Martino's legacy was already well established before his rehab because his pre-surgery records were either good or head shaking good.
A bop-oriented guitarist of the highest order from the Montgomery school of fretmasters, Pat Martino was already considered a "guitarist's guitarist" by the early seventies. And you would expect him to really show off his abilities in a live setting. Fortunately, he did record a club date in 1972 with Ron Thomas on electric piano, Tyrone Brown on Fender bass, and Sherman Ferguson on drums. Live is a set of three extended pieces that were conducive for extended jams. The first two songs were modal workouts that included changing tempos and knotty chord changes in the head followed by Pat stretching out for several minutes on the solo spaces. But I chose to spotlight the third tune because it proves Pat didn't need complex material to astound the living begeezus out of you. He can take a familiar, straightforward pop tune like the 1966 Bobby Hebb smash hit "Sunny" and blow you away all the same.