Guitarist Pat Martino | KNKX Public Radio
Pat Martino started playing professionally at the age of 15 after moving to New York. For a time he lived with Les Paul and then started playing jazz clubs regularly.
His career spanned six decades – beginning with his formative years playing with a deep groove that he honed with various jazz organ masters, including Charles Earland, Don Patterson, Jack McDuff and, most recently, Joey DeFrancesco.
Whether he was playing Wes Montgomery-influenced hard bop in his early recordings or spiritual explorations in the 60s, he maintained impeccable clarity and could play serious music videos as demonstrated here during a visit to KNKX Studios in 2000 on the song “Seven Come Eleven.“
In his early twenties, he released his first of many well-received albums. He drew comparisons to guitarists like Wes Montgomery, but in the fusion era of the 1970s he was forging his own sound. Martino’s work of the 70s is considered one of the most essential of the instrument and, like many great artists, his sound evolved over time and around the world he was considered the best player to play. six strings.
What Les Paul said on hearing a teenager playing Pat Martino: “What came out of that guitar was amazing. His dexterity and picking style were absolutely unique. He held his pick like one would hold a half-cup…little finger outstretched, very polite. The politeness disappeared when the pick met the string.
Once, when George Benson was asked about Martino, he said, “I thought I had conquered New York. I saw this young boy…and this guitar jumped out of nowhere. And some of the most amazing lines I’ve ever heard. Excellent tone, excellent articulation.
Jazz fans agreed when they chose Martino as Guitarist of the Year in the 2004 Down Beat Readers poll.
Martino had been suffering from a respiratory illness since 2018 which led him to stop playing. But more surprisingly, in 1980, he had an almost fatal crisis following a hemorrhagic arteriovenous malformation. He was born with the disease which had caused him to suffer from hallucinations and seizures since childhood, but had not been diagnosed.
His bleeding left him with complete amnesia – no memory or knowledge of his career or how to play the very instrument that made him successful. Martino says he learned to focus on the present and learned to play guitar from scratch.
Here is what Martino said of his experience after some recovery: “My relearning of the instrument didn’t really come from trying to replicate my original intentions when I was younger, which was to say a successful career. My intention the second time after neurosurgery was to enjoy the instrument as a toy, which predates my career; as a boy, I used to enjoy the guitar as my favorite toy. And it brought me back to it, after all the neurosurgery experience.”
Martino was nominated for the Grammy Awards for his albums Living with Yoshi and Thinking group.
When Martino was in a KNKX studio session, what he said about his experience after his neurosurgery is a reminder for everyone: “I think reality itself is a lesson that can’t be questioned. It’s something that happens that you have to adjust for your own pleasure, to enjoy your life. You have to make a decision. I made the decision to enjoy the moment and pay more attention to everything in the moment.
On Martino’s passing, Joey DeFrancesco said, “He will be missed – he certainly left us all an incredible musical legacy and will be forever remembered as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.”