One of the greatest guitarists in jazz, Pat Martino, together with his trio, presents an evening of unparalleled jazz virtuosity.
Martino became actively involved with the early rock scene in Philadelphia, alongside stars such as Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Bobby Darin. His first road gig was with jazz organist Charles Earland, a high school friend. Martino’s reputation soon spread among other jazz players, and he was recruited by bandleader Lloyd Price to play hits such as “Stagger Lee” onstage with musicians like Slide Hampton and Red Holloway.
Martino moved to Harlem to immerse himself in the “soul jazz” played by Willis “Gatortail” Jackson and others. The organ trio concept had a profound influence on Martino’s rhythmic and harmonic approach and he remained in that 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, while performing internationally with his fusion group Joyous Lake, Martino began experiencing seizures, which were eventually diagnosed as AVM, a condition he was born with. After surgery and recovery, he resumed his career when he appeared in 1987 in New York, a gig that was released on an album with an appropriate name, The Return.
Today, Martino lives in Philadelphia again and continues to grow as a musician. As the New York Times noted, “Mr. Martino 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.”
Pat Martino has achieved the enviable state for a musician, or indeed for anybody, where he defines his work rather than it defining him.
—All About Jazz