What's Hot With Jazz Guitar: Pat Martino

If someone asked who the world's best 'half dozen' jazz guitar players were, you could say Pat Martino was certainly one of them, and not get much of an argument from anyone. Actually, in may people's opinion, he heads the list.

This is a rare pleasure for me to do a piece on Pat Martino because in the early 70's when I was a young guitarist in Canada, I owned 2 jazz guitar albums that I listened to over and over again. One was Joe Pass. The other was Pat Martino. I have always loved the way this man plays 'the machine' -- the word he commonly uses for the guitar -- and this last week I was fortunate enough to hear him play live in Los Angles (with organist Joey Defrancesco). Then last Sunday I got to spend a little time talking with him at the Sam Ash Music Jazz Guitar Clinic in Hollywood.

Superlatives fail me in describing Pat's playing. His facility on the guitar is truly amazing. And, his approach is truly unique. The guitar is not only a horizontal instrument (up and down the neck from the first to last fret), it is also vertical (across the fretboard and it's 6 strings), and Pat has a way of relating to this duality which is wonderfully profound. Pat seems to have a deep spiritual perspective on all things in life and his approach to the guitar is no exception.

At the Sam Ash clinic Pat offered a very cohesive presentation. He gave everyone some general pointers on improvisation, followed by his take on how chords are viewed and utilized in constructing his solos. He talked about position playing, shifting positions (with the fingerings he uses) and then followed with many other aspects of his approach to playing the guitar. He introduced everyone to the Hexagrams of the I Ching and how he relates them to the guitar through the use of string combinations. He also talked about augmented and diminished forms, how all of the major and minor triads can be derived from them, and subsequently went on to cover vertical and horizontal positions and inversions and the transformation of the augmented and diminished forms through the basic common string groups.

I will add here that Pat's diagrams have the appearance of sacred geometry -- certainly metaphysical in origin -- illustrating (along with his musical inventiveness in general) a direct contact with the Muse, the higher self, or whatever you wish to call that unseen creative force that guides us all when we let it.

This all sounds like pretty heady stuff, however once you break the mold of always thinking in common key centers, this approach becomes very attractive. And, Pat Martino is the master of it. He covers this in some detail in his article Nature of the Guitar. I suggest all of you take a moment to check it out. These are amazing concepts.

I have a great many of Pat Martino's CDs, and all of them are good, however I will recommend that you check out his latest one 'Live at Yoshi's' with Joey Defrancesco. When I caught the Pat Martino show here in LA with Joey last week, the air was electric with their combined musical energy. The audience really exploded with appreciation too. I was fortunate to be in the company of jazz guitar wizard Sid Jacobs (who I will feature in an upcoming column), so it was quite a memorable evening.

Pat Martino's website is at http://www.patmartino.com/.

Pat has soundclips all over the web -- and now has video clips on his website. Check those out at Video Clips

I usually include part of a player's bio in the jazz guitar column, however in this instance (as we are running long) I will direct everyone to the bio page of Pat's website at Pat's Bio

You will also find other features on the web site -- Itinerary, News, Discography, Galleries, Guitars, Articles/Reviews, Scores, Transcriptions. Books/Videos etc. Pat has a very comprehensive and well designed website, and there are even examples of his digital artwork online...

Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com, where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot in Jazz Guitar' columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc plays Heritage guitars and endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps -- great for jazz (and anything else!)

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