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Legendary Jazz Guitarist, Pat Martino, Passes Away at 77


Yesterday, the guitar and jazz communities lost one of the great icons of the instrument and genre: Pat Martino, who passed away on Monday at the age of 77.


Born August 25, 1944, Pat Martino began his illustrious musical career at the age of 15, shortly after leaving his hometown of Philadelphia, PA to relocate to New York City. Upon his arrival in the jazz mecca that is New York, Martino quickly picked up a regular gig at Small’s Paradise, a jazz club in Harlem known for developing amazing young players. There, he performed six months out of the year and spent the remaining six performing at Club Harlem in Atlantic City, NJ.


Martino began rapidly gaining notoriety for his prowess as a player, and it wasn’t long before he began performing and recording with some of the biggest names in the New York jazz scene, including Willis Jackson, Red Holloway, and a series of organists such as Don Patterson, Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff, Richard “Groove” Holmes, and Jimmy McGriff. In 1967, however, Martino took the stage as a bandleader and shortly after released his first album, El Hombre, which launched him into the spotlight as not only a virtuosic jazz guitarist but a brilliant composer and arranger as well.


“It’s difficult to overstate the influence of Pat Martino’s uniquely identifiable voice in the jazz guitar community. For legions of players over decades (including me in the mid-’70s) Pat was the generational bridge into post-bebop modern jazz, and the sound of Philadelphia. His passion, spirituality, intellect, unique musicality, and technique kept his name in the very top tier of jazz guitar gods throughout the decades,” said Howard Paul, President of Benedetto Guitars.


In 1980, Martino suffered from a horrific, near-fatal seizure caused by a hemorrhaged arteriovenous malformation. The vascular anomaly caused Martino to experience severe amnesia, leaving him with no recollection or knowledge of his career or how to play the very instrument that made him successful. Martino was forced to relearn the guitar from ground zero. He didn’t let that stop him, however, and by 1987, Martino was not only performing again but released his twelfth studio album, The Return.


“Pat Martino was one of my biggest inspirations when I first started getting into jazz guitar. His burning eighth-note lines and the fire in his playing really got to me. His warm and beautiful touch on ballads was also incredible,” said master guitarist and ArtistWorks jazz guitar instructor, Dave Stryker. “Later when I became friendly with Pat I was able to tell him what he meant to me in person, and he was always a very warm and encouraging person and a deep thinker.”


Dave pays tribute to Martino here in this solo rendition of Pat’s piece “Portrait of Diana” from his 1970 album, Desperado:



In addition to his mastery as a performer, composer, and recording artist, Pat Martino was also a passionate educator and was known for his kind, caring, and open approach to teaching guitar. In fact, he taught online guitar courses through our partners at TrueFire in addition to publishing numerous instructional books throughout the decades.


To get a glimpse of Martino’s genius, check out his TrueFire course, “The Nature of Guitar,” and take a look at this free sample lesson here:



Pat Martino will be deeply missed, but his legacy will forever live on through his music and the countless musicians and guitar players who were influenced by his art and talent.


“In his relationship with us at Benedetto, he was kind, compassionate, open to his gushing guitar fans, and unwaveringly loyal,” said Paul. “We will miss him terribly, and consider his friendship a great blessing. Our deepest condolences to Aya, and to his friend and champion Joe Donofrio, both of whom helped him remain at home and comfortable to the end.”



Have you always wanted to learn how to play jazz guitar? Through our comprehensive online guitar lessons and Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Dave Stryker, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Dave’s course starts with the basics and teaches everything from beginner guitar to advanced performance techniques and compositions. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as guitarists and musicians!


Try out some free sample music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



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