Remember: A Tribute to Wes Montgomery
Blue Note Records
Pat Martino: A Tribute to Wes (April 25, 2006 Audio Interview / Pat plays)
Pat Martino: At One with His Favorite Toy (April 24, 2006 Interview)
Pat Martino @ AAJ
Pat Martino Photo Gallery @ AAJ
When the anesthesia wore off, Pat Martino looked up hazily at his parents and his doctors and tried to piece together any memory of his life.
One of the greatest guitarists in jazz. Martino had suffered a severe brain aneurysm and underwent surgery after being told that his condition could be terminal. After his operations he could remember almost nothing. He barely recognized his parents. and had no memory of his guitar or his career. He remembers feeling as if he had been “dropped cold, empty, neutral, cleansed...naked.”
In the following months. Martino made a remarkable recovery. Through intensive study of his own historic recordings, and with the help of computer technology, Pat managed to reverse his memory loss and return to form on his instrument. His past recordings eventually became “an old friend, a spiritual experience which remained beautiful and honest.” This recovery fits in perfectly with Pat's illustrious personal history. Since playing his first notes while still in his pre-teenage years, Martino has been recognized as one of the most exciting and virtuosic guitarists in jazz. With a distinctive, fat sound and gut-wrenching performances, he represents the best not just in jazz, but in music. He embodies thoughtful energy and soul.
Born Pat Azzara in Philadelphia in 1944, he was first exposed to jazz through his father, Carmen “Mickey” Azzara, who sang in local clubs and briefly studied guitar with Eddie Lang. He took Pat to all the city's hot-spots to hear and meet Wes Montgomery and other musical giants. “I have always admired my father and have wanted to impress him. As a result, it forced me to get serious with my creative powers.”
He began playing guitar when he was twelve years old. and left school in tenth grade to devote himself to music. During Visits to his music teacher Dennis Sandole, Pat often ran into another gifted student, John Coltrane, who would treat the youngster to hot chocolate as they talked about music.
Besides first-hand encounters with `Trane and Montgomery, whose album Grooveyard had “an enormous influence” on Martino, he also cites Johnny Smith, a Stan Getz associate, as an early inspiration. “He seemed to me, as a child. to understand everything about music,” Pat recalls.
Martino became actively involved with the early rock scene in Philadelphia, alongside stars like Bobby Rydell, Chubby Checker and Bobby Darin. His first road gig was with jazz organist Charles Earland, a high school friend. His reputation soon spread among other jazz players, and he was recruited by bandleader Lloyd Price to play hits such as Stagger Lee on-stage with musicians like Slide Hampton and Red Holloway.
Martino moved to Harlem to immerse himself in the “soul jazz” played by Earland and others. Previously, he had “heard all of the white man's jazz. I never heard that other part of the culture,” he remembers. The organ trio concept had a profound influence on Martino's rhythmic and harmonic approach. and he remained in the idiom as a sideman, gigging with Jack McDuff and Don Patterson. An icon before his eighteenth birthday, Pat was signed as a leader for Prestige Records when he was twenty. His seminal albums from this period include classics like Strings!, Desperado, El Hombre and Baiyina (The Clear Evidence), one of jazz's first successful ventures into psychedelia.
In 1976, Martino began experiencing the excruciating headaches which were eventually diagnosed as symptoms of his aneurysms. After his surgery and recovery, he resumed his career when he appeared in 1987 in New York, a gig that was released on a CD with an appropriate name, The Return. He then took another hiatus when both of his parents became ill, and he didn't record again until 1994, when he recorded Interchange and then The Maker.
Today, Martino lives in Philadelphia again and continues to grow as a musician. As the New York Times recently noted, “Mr. Martino, at fifty, is back and he is plotting new musical directions, adding more layers to his myth.” His experiments with guitar synthesizers, begun during his rehabilitation, are taking him in the direction of orchestral arrangements and they promise groundbreaking possibilities. Musicians flock to his door for lessons, and he offers not only the benefits of his musical knowledge, but also the philosophical insights of a man who has faced and overcome enormous obstacles. “The guitar is of no great importance to me,” he muses. “The people it brings to me are what matter. They are what I'm extremely grateful for, because they are alive. The guitar is just an apparatus.”
It would be really nice to hear from Pat himself an explanation and a couple of examples of his theory of relating the I Ching with the guitar.
Also, it would be nice to have him comment on his latest album Remember, which I'm really looking forward to listen to.
Thanks and all the best to such a great artist.
There is no explanation of the I-Ching itself that's needed, other than advising students that it's a valuable work from the far east. Nor are there any examples needed, although the profundity of what is pointed out in the graphics I've provided, (on my website > Nature of the Guitar) emanates directly from the I-Ching's 64 Hexagrams now to be interpreted as 64 separate combinations of six strings on the guitar, and in this way take its place as a valid page in the blueprint of this instrument.
As to a comment on my latest album "Remember." It's just what it says. It's a remembrance of a wish made as a child. (At the age of 13 going on 14) I wished I could play on the music I heard Wes Montgomery and his brothers perform. I didn't have the ability then, but I did have a dream, and the dream has come true because I remembered how important it was.
Thanks, and all my best to you.
I must admit to how exicted I was to see that you (Pat Martino) was going to be joining this forum group.
In truth, I find very few artists for myself that inspire me as consistently as you do Pat. From your ability to play the guitar on a physical level to your development of your theories about the music and how to relate it directly to your instrument. I will admit to many hours looking at your Nature of the Guitar information on your website and coupling that with a video clinic you did that I have access to and just feeling the switch turn on and say... that makes perfect sense... but how do I make it work?
I'm willing to bet that I'll be asking you a lot of questions. But I dont want to turn this into some sort of guitar-fest which I wouldn't be opposed to but I think there are things you certainly can offer.
As a guitarist myself, working on a Masters degree I find myself referencing your albums in search of something to inspire me to want to continue to practice towards some all encompassing goal... a goal that is not yet defined. It seems that your goal to wish to play on a level that Wes was at seems to be an impossible one. But to witness you reaching it in your own heart and mind is refreshing to me, and beyond category of inspiration.
When I hear music from you or say Jim Hall I hear the natural progression of the music. Along with Jim Hall I think you are obviously the most important living guitarists (as far as my own mind is concerned) because of your refusal it seems to stay in one place and to constantly grow and develop your voice after all these years. And with the story of your unfortunate memory loss in the 80's it literally freaks me out that you could pick up from there and run with the musical ball and make music on the level you have done on.
I'll take the dive and on behalf of all the guitar players that post here (and there are a lot of us) that I want to just say Thanks for the decades of amazing music.
I'd start doing the "we're not worthy" bowing thing but I don't think it would have the same effect on the internet.
I'll have to many questions. You'll be sick of me by the time you're done here
I was going to try and make it to Houston to see you on Friday but sadly (well maybe not sadly) there's a Festival in the town I'm in this weekend and any possible routes to getting there have officially been shot down.
I'll just cry myself to sleep and be ok after.
Thanks a million.
Firstly, I just want to thank you for your music, as you've been a HUGE influence on my guitar playing and turning me onto jazz in general. Your writing and your phrasing is just incredible.
As far as questions for you...
I've started working on your 'Linear Expressions' book and am finding it very helpful so far. Any thoughts, comments, or recommendations you can give in working through it?
What are your favorite guitar tones from both yourself and your influences?
On the new 'Remember' album, was there a certain feel or mix you were going for? At certain points on it, I would like to hear your guitar louder in the mix actually.
See you in Boston on 5/12!
Thanks for all the great music throughout the years! Your new Wes tribute is your best work yet, IMHO.
Thanks for your comments.
With regard to your first question, "Linear Expressions" contains information based upon use of the improvisational Mi 7th motif.
The Mi7th stems from the Perf 5th of the V7th chord, (in other words, G7 = Dmi7).
Since the V7th chord is generated by the Diminished chord thru lowering any single tone by 1/2 step, four of them are produced, and they rest a mi3rd apart. When using alterations with more dissonance to the V7th form, (#5, b5, #9, b9, etc.) I'd recommend for you to begin transposing any line form (discussed within Linear Expressions) in mi3rds. A good example would be to use separately against G7 (b13) one of the following: Dmi7, Fmi7, Abmi7 or Bmi7. Or, combinations of them in different orders.
To answer your second question: I have no favorite tones. Each and every one retains power in its own way.
And finally, in the mix on "Remember" my intention was to re-create as closely as possible exactly what I personally enjoyed in the original recordings done on Riverside records in the late 50's by Wes'. Of coarse one had to be alive and conscious to what was going on back then to even realize the need for authenticity compared to conditions of today.
See you in Boston!
Ok here I go with my first volley of 3 questions. Answer whatever you want to, don't answer any if you don't.
1 - What advice would you have for someone who's contemplating the studio himself. I've got maybe 3 hours of studio time in my life and really it was all a huge learning experience as I'm sure every adventure into the studio is. My last trip in was a big success in terms of everything really coming together but still, I wanted more time, more music.
As someone who's got so many albums as a leader, not to include sideman work. What do you think is the most important thing to prepare for when going into a studio with your own band and music? How much do you have to 'let it go' in terms of things not going perfectly according to play? Or do you accept nothing but perfection? After reading your comment about Remember's mixing it seems to me that every single aspect of your last album was very premeditated before putting the music on tape.
2 - How did your relationship with Gibson come about to make your custom axe? I've known people personally who have been working with Gibson for sponsorship but obviously custom made guitars are an entirely different project. Did you go into the custom shop with them and really hammer everything out with them? You've been changing guitars throughout your career (as a lot of people do, and should do probably). But you always maintain a similar Tone. When I first listened to Stone Blue I thought, that's great.... Martino, he's burning. Then I found out you were playing a Parker! I was totally shocked... that that guitar could handle the strings that you use, but a solid body guitar in your hands was still sounding like you sound. Maybe it was my ears at the time... I should give it another listen.
3 - Last about your clinics. I'm a student at the University of North Texas and you were hear about, what 5 or 6 years ago and gave a clinic. Most of it was on tape but some of it wasn't and I'm just wondering if all your clinics are similar to this one in terms of the material because I would love to attend one and maybe have you invited back here sometime before I'm finished my degree.... but I mean that's just wishfull thinking on my part.
Welcome Pat! I've thrown on your magnificent album Consciousness to honor your presence.
Is there a particular recording of which you are most proud?
What is your most memorable performance, or most personally significant performance?
Many thanks for sharing your time here!
Dear Mr Martino,
Thank you so much for dropping in. This great forum just got even better.
It is amazing to be able to hear from a GIANT in the jazz guitar world first hand.
I can't wait to check out your Wes tribute album... It's hard to fathom your being able to spend time with him... I need to get that Riverside recordings box set.
I just got my guitar out and checked out that diminished chord thing from your last post. Wow, thanks. That will keep me busy for another year or so.
Guess I need to read more.
Are you touring England/ Europe soon?
Which of the newish talents out there are exciting you on any instrument; it's important to be a bit selective in listening isn't it?
Should I only be spending time with Coltrane and Wes?
Playing music makes most things better.
To: Jakeweiser, Noj, Brett Winter-Roach, and any other upcoming entry,
As much as I would enjoy interacting at this moment answering the questions you've asked I'm forced to postpone my reply until I return from Houston, TX after the weekend, at which time I'll do the best I can. Until then I send each of you my warmest regard.
One of my favorite albums in college was an LP you made with Eric Kloss called Life Force.
Any chance that will ever be released on CD?
Never miss another jazz concert again! Jazz Near You is a simple yet powerful way for fans to discover who is playing where and when. Access local jazz events by date, by distance, by venue, by musician or by festival; map to venues, set reminders, and get detailed information about musicians. Jazz Near You is your complete guide to jazz music near you! Download it now.