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Jazz Guitar Improvising

Pat Martino was exposed to the guitar at a very early age due to the fact that his dad was a vocalist who also happened to play the guitar. He listened to recordings from his father’s record collection including albums by jazz guitar players Eddie Lang, Django Reinhardt, and Johnny Smith. Pat received some lessons from a cousin of his and then studied with a famous regional guitar player by the name of Dennis Sandhole.

By the time he was fifteen years old Pat was playing in concert with the rhythm and blues bands of Lloyd Price, Willis Jackson, and others. In the early 1960s Martino played in combos led by different organists including the likes of Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Jack McDuff, and Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes. He then worked as a side man with numerous other jazz groups such as those of saxophonists Sonny Stitt and John Handy.

In 1967 Pat Martino made the first of numerous recordings on the Prestige record label as leader of his own group. Within one year his extraordinary guitar technique and complex yet melodic improvisations brought excellent praise from jazz critics and fans alike. In the beginning, Martino’s playing approach was significantly affected by jazz guitar legend Wes Montgomery. He then started seriously exploring Eastern music and slowly, over a duration of years, established his own distinct jazz/ rock fusion approach.

Pat Martino also experimented and played with guitar synthesizers as well as an electric 12 string guitar. In 1980 Pat suffered an aneurism on his brain. A difficult operation was responsible for saving his life but he was unable to play guitar anymore for nearly a year. It was another three years until he was able to return to playing live concerts. His current recordings reveal that Martino definitely remains a significant force in the jazz guitar world.

By 1987, Pat was tape-recording once again and it wasn’t long before he restored his earlier prominence. He took a few years off to help out with his ill parents, but from 1994 on he has resumed being a regular part of the mainstream jazz scene continuing to develop as a guitarist and an improviser. Almost 50 years after his initial debut and 30 years after he forgot everything he knew about playing music, Pat Martino is still one of the top mainstream jazz guitarists around!