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Pat Martino: To Renew A Life In Jazz

By Published: October 31, 2003

AAJ: Do you know Jimmy Bruno?

PM: Sure. Jimmy's a very close friend.

AAJ: Do the two of you ever swap notes?

PM: No we haven't, as much as both of us would like to do. I'm sure we shall at some point. We do sometimes share ideas we find exciting. We're both active at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

AAJ: Do they have a guitar department?

PM: They do, yes. It's excellent. Tom Giacabetti, Mike Quaile, and Craig Ebner are over there. Quite a number of really great players.

AAJ: I read about your lovely Japanese wife, Ayako Asahi, and I saw her at Zanzibar Blue when you performed there. Could you talk a bit about your relationship? Do you work together?

PM: We play! We don't 'work.' We love each other very deeply. We love everything we do. We're together 24 hours a day. The only time we're not together is when I'm on the road, if and when she doesn't come with me. She is totally involved in the continuance of good health. She's totally involved in growing wheat grass, fruits and vegetables. She's teaching me so much about diet. She's teaching me so much about adapting to something that I would rather not adapt to- in other words alleviating habit, confronting dislike itself as a 'friend.'

AAJ: Explain.

PM: There's nothing I've disliked more than asparagus (laughter). And eggplant. (laughter.) Nowadays, I really enjoy them. I've learned to love them. Because, even though I said to her, 'I don't like that,' she made it again (more laughter). And again after that. And each time she made it, she made it differently until I fell in love with it. The Japanese culture is very interesting. So in that way, I've learned a lot about myself in terms of re-adaptation.

AAJ: Asparagus and eggplant. (Extended laughter.)

PM: And that applies to so much many things in life. It's just personality- so that's how I work! I remember I used to eat because there was an emptiness in my stomach. I just wanted to fill it up. I used to eat for the taste of it, the experience of the senses, not what it did for me. These learnings are what are coming to me through the relationship. These adaptations to a longevity, a greater strength.

I remember a time when I weighed 86 pounds and they were going to give me a lung transplant. From pneumonia. I flew in from Paris in 1999 with pneumonia, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. They put me in intensive care. They had me on oxygen. The doctors at Jefferson decided I needed both lungs transplanted. They shipped me over to Temple, for further procedures. Right at that point, my wife couldn't take it and took over, and in a period of five weeks, I went up to 165 pounds in six weeks. Between Ayako, my wife and Marian Garfinkel, a masterful yogi, doing basic yogic positions and diet. Everything has changed, without the lung transplant, with no medication whatsoever. Life is a miracle. Everything is a miracle. There is nothing but miracles. The only thing other than miracles is distractive. That's what everything is: miraculous. The entire process. I would think that the first scream of the infant is the reaction to distraction from the miracle of living.

Ayako and I have a fantastic relationship. She's learned guitar. She uses the guitar in yogic positions. She uses the guitar to stretch, a Gibson L4, a heavy guitar like an ES175. She'll take it and lie flat on the floor on her back, with the guitar on her chest, and she'll be playing 12 tone scales across the neck. And she's doing this to alleviate pain in her spine that she suffered as a child when she fell and was injured. Her back pains can't be healed. So instead of prescribed medicines, she'll pick up the guitar. It's amazing how much we share with each other.

AAJ: You both discover new parts of yourself.

PM: Yes, that's great. It's really healthy. And all of this, in a sense, protrudes into the music. Most musicians see a circle around their music. That they have to step out of this life into the other. I don't see that. But I know it's there. I'm forced to have faith that that sort of thing always takes care of itself, and that everything turns into music and that one thing helps another. So it's a constant acceptance of everything that happens, and it happens as it should happen. It's a living process. And the reason I describe it that way is on account of the categories that these questions have reveled into.

Spiritualism is another circle. Active living protrudes itself across that circle. And musicianship. Myself as an 'American;' an 'Italian.' These are all circles of truth. These are all things that I am. But life itself protrudes all of these labels and terms. And it's difficult to say what is of any importance other than 'now,' and whatever is taking place is a different manifestation of the same thing. And there's a familiarity in that. And that's where the comfort comes from in any form of development. When I pick up the instrument I'm comfortable with it. It's second nature. It's a vehicle. In itself, it's no longer important at all.

Related Links
Think Tank: How Ideas Become Jazz and Vice-Versa
Live From Zanzibar Blue: Pat Martino Quintet

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