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JGT Sits Down with Pat Martino



Jazz Guitar Today is dedicating our entire August issue to Pat Martino. Celebrating his 75th birthday August 25th, Pat shares some insight into his playing and more. Happy Birthday, Pat!

Pat Martino is Welcomed to the JGT Hall of Fame

JGT:  How do you prepare yourself for performance?  I’ve heard that you are very conscious of the “zone”. What does it take to get you there?

Attention has a great deal to do with its outcome. It’s also a condition that prevails, (no matter what governs our awareness). As to what it takes to be conscious, that depends upon ones priority, and no matter what that is, it will demand concentration.

JGT:  Your sound has always been fat, full and robust. If you were to bake that cake – what are the ingredients? 

The sound we apply to an instrument is the result of our pleasure; it’s similar to the voice of an individual, and it evolves over time to embody the representation of ones emotions. Its ingredients are all of the elements that continuously cause it to develop.

My use of a 4X4 cabinet originally came from my set up for a “fusion group”, (Joyous Lake to be exact). It’s not always available when touring, and what commonly replaces it is provided as a 2X12 set up. Of course it’s merely the window of its amplification, an Acoustic Image unit, which I’ve used for over 20 yrs. That one’s been superior to all that came before it.

JGT:  What can you tell me about your signature “Pat Martino” model and what properties it has that make it unique to you.

Of course what’s most unique about it is the quality of its structure. It’s one of the finest instruments that I’ve used. Its sustain is superb, its endurance is excellent, intonation, etc., etc. Most of all, it remains neutral when it’s used. Without a doubt it’s a beautiful guitar.

JGT:  I went through a couple of your educational series a few years back and you created and explored the diminished “parental” concept, which I found illuminating and fascinating. How has your approach to music changed over the years? 

My initial approach to the instrument, (guitar) was specifically attached to “Jazz” as its forefront. The “Parental” concept includes the Augmented and Diminished forms. In time evolving toward a broader interest in quite a number of other forms of application.

As to my philosophy, it remains undivided, although it continues to expand. If there is a description the closest would be “All Is One”.

JGT:  You have had a long term relationship with your band, what is the “secret” to that “bond.” As a leader do you have a philosophy? 

There are no secrets. The affinity that exists between us has been continuous since we first met. As a leader the philosophy that exists is an extension of all that was learned in my early years as a sideman. With regard to a need for me to instruct, or request interpretations on behalf of the other members, it’s unnecessary since they were hired as great players to begin with.

JGT:  I have been studying players of all instruments for some time now and I find great command of time is consistent with all my favorite players. Your single note lines for example, are as solid from a time point of view as anybody on any instrument… really incredible. Is that intuitive?

I believe that time, and rhythm is intuitive, although phrasing, including pronunciation, and dynamics can be thought out. It’s something we’re born with, as well as something that’s cultivated.   

JGT:  You have been so admired by many of the world’s greatest guitar players. You are on the short list of “favorite jazz guitarists” for every guitarist I admire. What do you want your legacy to be as we look at your 75 years gracing us all?

I appreciate the compliment, although admiration isn’t something I’ve sought. To me, the most important achievement is to realize doing the best one can do under any circumstance.


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