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Remembering Pat Martino


Pat Martino, an articulate and thoughtful master of the guitar with many unforgettable records and countless performances to his credit, died November 1. He was 77 years old.
The guitarist died in the home formerly owned by his parents in South Philadelphia, where he initally came to fame decades prior. The cause of his death was a respiratory ailment which had sidelined him since 2018.
Martino began playing professionally in Philadelphia when he was 15. He later moved to New York. Becoming a self described "Wes Montgomery Addict" early in life, his initial work was with groups led by Willis Jackson, Red Holloway, and a series of organists, including Don Patterson, Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Richard "Groove" Holmes, and Jimmy McGriff, who were among the finest of their era.
Pat Martino was a bandleader by the late 1960s. Some of the records that Martino released in the first part of his career were El Hombre, Consciousness, and the much loved We'll Be Together Again.
Pat made a remarkable comeback after brain surgery in 1980. That surgery corrected an aneurysm that caused him to almost totally lose his memory and completely forget how to play guitar. It took years, but he regained his ability, partly by listening to his older records.
Martino did not resume playing until 1984, making his recording comeback with 1987's The Return. One of his finest records, Remember: A Tribute to Wes Montgomery, features brilliant interpretations of works made popular by his primary inspiration, the legendary Wes Montgomery. Martino also was a educator to aspiring guitar students.
Pat Martino dazzled appreciative fans and audiences worldwide. He performed at the Iowa City Jazz Festival in 2001 and in Council Bluffs in 2012. KIOS Jazz in the Afternoon host Chris Cooke attended both concerts and spoke with Pat Martino via phone before the Council Bluffs performance. Click on the link for the interview (Recording Engineer/Mike Hansen).

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