It's been nearly twenty years since Pat Martino's comeback from a near-fatal brain aneurysm. In that time he's re-established himself as one of the jazz world's premier guitarists, a technically advanced post bop player who combines forward-thinking musical ideas with native Philly grit; think Pat Metheny with more soul. Think Tank, as the name suggests, finds Martino at his most cerebral, which has its pros and cons. The title track, for example, is a blues of sorts built on an equation based on the letters of John Coltrane's name, which may sound like an exercise for a composition class, but manages to hold together pretty well organically. Coltrane, a Philadelphia mentor of Martino's, is a recurring reference on the album, both indirectly in Martino's intensely spiritual and intellectual approach to the music, and directly on the funk-based original "Phineas Trane as well as on an extended romp through Coltrane's "Africa.
The original Affinity essentially survived for just one album, a superb, jazz-tinged effort released on the Vertigo label in 1971, and subsequently reissued on several occasions since then – a cottage industry that seems to have spawned more interest in the band today than they ever attracted during their career. Certainly few people were aware that the group continued on following the departure (for a solo career) of vocalist Linda Hoyle later in 1971, but this set – aptly titled for the timespan it covers – not only documents the band's further activities, it also suggests that their ultimate demise was far from timely. With Vivienne McAuliffe proving a more than ample replacement, Affinity continued both gigging and recording, and this collection of previously unreleased demos and outtakes finds the band in excellent form. One can only imagine how great they might have been, had they had a full studio (and a recording budget) at their disposal!
The beloved Brazilian guitar legend's resumé is so chock-full of varied musical experiences – jazz, pop, film scoring, ten years with Sergio Mendes – that his brilliant solo efforts can't help but include informal homages to different eras of his life. He starts out here getting straight to the heart of the matter, paying tribute to his fellow countryman Antonio Carlos Jobim with a self-contained plucky guitar/vocal duet of "Waters of March," which includes spirited scat passages. He moves into samba mode for a lively medley of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker tunes, "Groovin' High/Whispering," deferring to Toots Thielemans' always engaging harmonica for melody as he harmonizes gently; then they switch roles.