Guitarist Pat Martino was a major influence and inspirational figure for many musicians. Sadly, he was lost to the world in November of 2021 after a long and very successful career as a world-renowned jazz artist. Pat’s remarkable virtuosity was always on full display, and I often felt that I had heard a solo artist reminiscent of the great violin virtuoso Paganini after the many times that I heard Pat perform. However, in addition to his ability to play with great velocity he also had a slower and deeply soulful aspect to his music making that was always very moving to me.
I first became aware of him in 1973 when I was given a copy of his LP “The Visit,” and I felt that his playing immediately set a new bar for me as a guitar student. Also, at that time his latest release was the LP “Pat Martino Live” recorded at Folk City in New York. The album closes with a high-energy rendition of the song “Sunny”, a 1966 top-40 hit by the singer Bobby Hebb. This release was followed by the LP “Consciousness,” and I was immediately drawn to the two solo pieces included - the original composition “Passata on Guitar,” and Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.”
The jazz world was shaken by the news that he survived a catastrophic brain illness that required memory-erasing surgery in 1980, however he went on to relearn the guitar and reclaim his career. His return was marked by a notice in the Village Voice in 1987 that he was leading a trio at the club “Fat Tuesday’s.” I could not get into New York for this engagement but subsequently read a very positive review that noted a line of people some four blocks long waiting to get into the club. None of this surprised me, and I was fortunate to hear him again in San Francisco in 1995, leading a quartet in the Venetian Room of the Fairmont Hotel.
A few years later I had the good fortune to study with him for a week at the Stanford Jazz Workshop in 2001. I asked him about his solo guitar compositions and he joked that he had perhaps three dozen of these sorts of pieces. To my knowledge none of these compositions have been published to date, but I hope that someday they will be made available as a collection. I offer my rendition/transcription of “Passata on Guitar” in loving memory and gratitude for his music and inspiration. Please click the link below to view a video recorded at Tedesco Studios in Paramus, New Jersey in 2015.
"Passata on Guitar" performance by John Klopotowski, 2015