When hearing about the prospect of meeting and interviewing Pat Martino, all we could think about here at Pepper was how much we love his music and what musical knowledge we would learn from him. To our surprise and delight, music was not the driving force for many of the life-changing experiences in Pat Martino’s life.
During the Jazz with Pepper clinic that Pat held for us back in February, we wrote about how his medical issues presented him with a revolutionary new way of approaching the guitar. What also emerged was a new way of approaching life. One that is positive, rewarding and insightful. Pat discusses with us that because of his memory loss, the past is a thing that does not exist to him. And since the future has not happened yet, the only thing that can be focused on is the Here and Now.
During Pat’s recovery, depression had taken a toll on him. As you could imagine, losing all your memories would make you terribly unhappy. The guitar became Pat’s saving grace. It was the outlet that his mind needed to recover from this ordeal. Even though he had at times been addicted to his instrument, the instrument now served him. His lessons from it allowed him to bridge the gaps in his mind. Things that used to be important, like what label he was with, or what album he was on, or what gig he had just played, were all like looking at memories from another life. What interests him now is the moment. The time he plays is the time he cherishes.
Though his memories had been washed away, he has recovered some. As you will see in our video series, Pat has many fond memories of old Harlem, New York in the 1960s, playing at Small’s Paradise, then owned by Wilt Chamberlain. Or in Philadelphia, growing up with Bobby Rydell and Ernie Evans, now known as Chubby Checker, and being involved very early on in the rock and roll scene that was just emerging.
It was an honor and a pleasure for J.W. Pepper to get the chance to hear a very unique story from one of the great jazz guitar legends. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Pat Martino – Here and Now Full Video Time Stamps:
0:27 How Pat Martino chose the guitar
1:53 Why Pat Martino gravitated toward jazz
3:45 Getting into pop music with Bobby Rydell
4:54 Cruising the South Philly music scene (and meeting Les Paul and Mary Ford)
5:49 Meeting Wes Montgomery with his parents
6:09 Moving to Harlem at 15, playing with Lloyd Price’s big band
7:49 Playing at Smalls’ Paradise and Count Basie’s Lounge
10:30 Making friends with a Goodfella
13:25 Wilt Chamberlain’s guitar lesson
15:08 Playing smooth jazz for Warner Brothers
16:52 Relationship with Ron Thomas
19:05 Health issues and brain surgery
21:16 “All of us, in one way or another, experiences transformation in our lives”
23:53 Relearning his entire existence after brain surgery
25:00 Struggles with depression and rediscovering the guitar
29:22 The child in all of us and exploration of our own imagination
30:54 The Book of Changes and the art of guitar
34:41 The most significant and definitive quality of the change that took place in Martino’s life
37:55 Martino’s new mindset on the guitar
40:52 There is no such thing as a teacher, no such thing as a student
42:29 Music is a universal language 45:02 Up and coming for Pat Martino
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