Guitarist Pat Martino comes to Columbia

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 | 12:16 p.m. CST; updated 8:29 a.m. CST, Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Pat Martino and guitar. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Katz.

COLUMBIA — Pat Martino has found that seemingly impossible things are possible if you work hard enough. Martino started playing the guitar when he was 12 and has since become "one of the greatest guitar players of all time," according to Jon Poses, executive director of the "We Always Swing" Jazz Series.

But an aneurysm almost 20 years ago cost him his memory.

If you go

Guitarist Pat Martino's visit to Columbia as part of the "We Always Swing" Jazz Series includes a documentary, a conversation with an MU neurologist,  and a performance.

  • "Martino Unstrung," which examines his memory loss and recovery, is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Ragtag Cinema, 10 Hitt St. Martino will be at the screening and available for questions after the film. Advance general admission tickets, $4-$8, are available at the box offices for the Ragtag or the Jazz Series, 218 N. Eighth St., and Web sites as well as through Ticketmaster.
  • "A Conversation with Pat Martino," with MU neurologist Joel Shenker, will be from 1:30 to 3 Wednesday in the Monsanto Theater of MU's Life Sciences Center, 1201 Rollins St.
  • Martino's performance is at 7 p.m. Wednesday at The Blue Note, 17 N. Ninth St. Tickets for reserved seats are $18-$30 and available through Ticketmaster and the Jazz Series


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"He didn't know he was one of the greatest guitar players," Poses said. "He didn't even know he played the guitar."

Martino will make his second appearance in the "We Always Swing" Jazz Series on Tuesday and Wednesday to perform at The Blue Note and to share his remarkable history. Events include a documentary on Tuesday evening and a question-and-answer conversation with Martino, along with neurologist Joel Shenker.

Martino has amazing technical proficiency and command of a fret board and has created an original sound, Poses said. "He is technically one of the best guitarists alive."

Martino has worked with great musicians such as Sonny Stitt, Jack McDuff, Jimmy Heath, Joey DeFrancesco, Willis Jackson and Joe Pesci. But in 1980, his music career was threatened. After chronic headaches and disorientation, he went to a specialist who discovered an aneurysm. The doctor told him that if he didn't undergo emergency surgery, he could die within hours. Upon waking from surgery, he had no recollection of who he was.

Martino then began relearning the guitar. He listened to old recordings of himself and used computer technology to relearn his craft. What's amazing, Poses said, is he was a great guitar player before and became a great guitar player again.

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