August 1st, 2015

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Martino was born Pat Azzara in South Philadelphia. He began playing professionally at the age of 15 after moving to New York City. Martino played and recorded early in his career with musicians such as Willis Jackson and Eric Kloss. He also worked with jazz organists, including Charles Earland, Jack McDuff, Tony Monaco, Trudy Pitts, Jimmy Smith, Gene Ludwig, Don Patterson, Richard “Groove” Holmes. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Martino made many recordings as a sideman and also under his own name.
I first met Pat one summer when I was playing at Somer’s Point, New Jersey with The Royaltones. George Katsakis, the leader of the band and I decided to go to Wildwood, New Jersey on our day off to hear some music. When we got there, we went to see Brother Jack McDuff’s Trio with a young George Benson on guitar and across the street we heard saxophone player Willis Jackson with a young Pat Martino on guitar. Both of these young guitarists were really good! I approached Pat at the club and we began talking about jazz. He offered to get together with me when we were both not working and teach me some guitar licks. I accepted and Pat opened my eyes and showed me lot of ideas about how to play jazz guitar. Later when I was back in Detroit and was playing jazz at the Frolic Show Bar with Lyman Woodard on organ and Melvin Davis on drums, I went to see Pat on my break who was playing at the Drome Lounge. He was even better than the first time I saw him. He is still a great player and really nice guy. I especially like his El Hombre album released in 1967 on Prestige.

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Dennis Coffey