One of the most original of the jazz-based guitarists to emerge in the 1960s, Pat Martino made a remarkable comeback after brain surgery in 1980 to correct an aneurysm caused him to lose his memory and completely forget how to play. It took years, but he regained his ability, partly by listening to his older records. Martino began playing professionally when he was 15. He worked early on 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. After playing with John Handy (1966), he started leading his own bands and heading sessions for Prestige, Muse, and Warner Bros. that found him welcoming the influences of avant-garde jazz, rock, pop, and world music into his advanced hard bop style.
After the operation, Martino did not resume playing until 1984, making his recording comeback with 1987's The Return. Although not as active as earlier, Pat Martino has regained his earlier form, recording again for Muse and Evidence; he later signed with Blue Note, issuing All Sides Now in 1996, followed two years later by Stone Blue and in 1998 by Fire Dance. In 2001 Martino released a live album recorded at Yoshi's in California. Two years later he teamed with saxophonist Joe Lovano for Think Tank. Remember: A Tribute to Wes Montgomery appeared on Blue Note in 2006.
Martino's global touring regimen continued unabated. He recorded an album at Blues Alley in 2009 that was issued in 2011 by HighNote -- his new label -- as Undeniable: Live at Blues Alley, following it a year later with more live offerings including Alone Together with Bobby Rose (2012). We Are Together Again, with Gil Goldstein, was issued by Warner Japan in 2013. HighNote dug into Martino's tape catalog for 2014's Young Guns: Gene Ludwig-Pat Martino Trio from 1969. A more current gig was captured and released in 2015 as Nexus. HighNote finally convinced him back into the studio two years later, releasing a quintet offering -- and his first studio date in 11 years -- entitled Formidable.
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