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Pat Martino: Creative Force


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This article was first published at All About Jazz in June 2000.

Pat Martino. A name that strikes anything from fear to sheer awe and reverence in musicians who know who this is. And what he's done and been through. And continues to go through. The name resonates a bridge between the true Jazz swing era throughout the organ trio groove and into the modern era and its (digital and electronic) resources of today.

A musical prodigy, Pat has always challenged himself... from his long and remarkable self recovery from amnesia brought on by a near fatal aneurysm to the ridiculously heavy string gauges and action he favors, yet nimbly maneuvers. One would think he simply sets unrealistic parameters for himself, but nothing keeps Martino sharper than these challenges themselves. He seemingly thrives on what would be their resistance to anyone else.

Pat not only learned to play on this level once, but twice. Due to a brain aneurysm almost twenty years ago, Martino was given the prognosis that he might live for two days and only then a 50% chance if he got an emergency operation. With this devastating information, Pat immediately flew back to Philly from LA and though he obviously survived, he didn't recognize the family and friends who came to encourage him -those close to him and who he'd performed with, such as George Benson. His loss of memory caused him to have to experience doubt and relearn the guitar at a point that should well have been the height of his career. The laurels and repayment for so many years of brilliant output. After a series of tentative starts he's come back in full, some say better, and with a bit less of the darkness formerly present in his sound.

Though known for his incredible technique but not reliant on it as an end, Pat radiates the dictum which Cecil Taylor has expressed, that: "Technique is a weapon the do whatever must be done." And no more or less: efficiency. Technique serves the music, the musician does not serve the instrument (nor his accumulated facility for its own sake). And Pat does not serve anything but the music and its potential for depth and unique beauty.

There are some artists who make us smile, rhythmically nod, dance, even feel, but few who elicit what Pat does... to think and to know. Know there is a purpose, a balance, and a logic and logical structure to the universe as sensed through sonic vibrations over time: music. Soul, definition, a catalyst, and key to life... improvisation ... possibilities... spread before us to peruse as rough gems happened upon in a Arabian flea market. The most unlikely beauty found among the funkiest of surroundings. Beckoning.

As with Miles Davis, a similar dark beauty resides in Martino's tone and sonic substance.

A minor sensibility is experienced both theoretically and sonically. There is no doubt, no tentativity in his statements or direction. No amendments or false starts... just a pure and dominant ferocity of thought to touch -head to fingers -unleashed upon six incredibly heavy yet, yielding strings. Pat just sees ahead. Way ahead as he solos. Winding with effortless, though controlled abandon. A contradiction of terms only with a lesser musician. The numerous recordings and anecdotes say it all... Consider the following and I think you'll agree.

As if fulfilling a cosmic inevitability via incantation, Pat's father upon his birth is said to have uttered, "with these hands... you will play guitar." A wish the elder Martino (Azzara) had hoped for himself. How little he could have known the auspicious start he rendered.

Pianist Ron Thomas, who's worked with Pat many times, expresses his thoughts: "I studied with Karlhienz Stockhausen and got to know John Cage quite well but I must say Pat is really the most astounding of all of them."

Guitar and recording industry icon Les Paul has been quoted as saying that after hearing him play, Paul seriously considered asking the 12 year old Pat for lessons.

Even Benson himself came to New York unprepared to walk into the first club he came to only to witness a 17 year-old Pat soloing like no one he had ever heard and caused the 18 year-old to seriously reconsider his chances in this profession (as he assumed that this must be what was simultaneously happening in clubs across the city).

And the recordings... classics like "Joyous Lake," "Exit," "Footprints," "We'll Be Together Again," "Consciousness," "Live!," all are lessons not only in how to be an original in jazz but in taste, power, depth, improvisation, groove, stamina, structure and truth.

Just as there are people and experiences in life that can change you, the experience of seeing Pat perform and/or meeting him goes beyond the music and sometimes well into the spiritual realm. You come away with something undefinable... you start to ponder all that you thought you 'knew' and if you have the strength you might start again, from scratch, if you're willing, with this new perspective on possibilities and perception. Either way, you've changed. If Zen has a place in improvisation as life, it resides within Martino.

Now having returned to his place, re-ignited... as master improviser (in every sense), composer (including string quartets and symphonic music), leader, arranger, teacher (imparter of guitar lore), artist, calligrapher, thinker, creator, renaissance guitar force and sonic architect, his journey continues. As does ours. Listener and musician, together again.

'True Music, like all true Art,
is an experience to be shared, not judged,
for praise cannot make it better,
as blame cannot make it worse,

Its creation swells and ebbs;
it evolves and yet is always the same.

It envelops all that it touches,
and it caresses the minds of its listeners
as it does the minds of the performers...

Now it is time for you, the listener to join with us
and share in the ecstasy of these creative moments,
for it is here, between us that they will live,
and it is here that we will be together again, and again.'

—Pat Martino (from "We'll Be Together Again," 1976)

All About Jazz: It's really a great pleasure to be able to talk to you today.

Pat Martino: Oh, its my pleasure

AAJ: Thank you for taking the time.

PM: Its really a pleasure. Joe Donofrio filled me in on everything and I was looking forward to hearing from you.

AAJ: Yeah, he sounds like a great guy.

PM: Yeah, he is.

AAJ: You seem to be really busy these days... with your recordings, gigs, clinics... (videos, books).

PM: Yeah, thank God for that. It's been really a prosperous time, you know, so I'm happy about that.

AAJ: Yeah, no doubt. A couple of people asked me to say hi to them... Dave Frank

PM: Oh, thats great.

AAJ: And... do you remember Charlie Miller? GIT? (student of Pat's and also my old roommate at Berklee).

PM: Oh, listen, when you speak with both of them; either of them, please give them my best.

AAJ: I certainly will. Be glad to... All Sides Now (Blue Note) was a really interesting concept...

PM: Oh, thanks. That was totally the idea of two other producers who came in specifically for a project like that and it kind of was secondary to what I had planned for Blue Note and it was a really time-consuming event or series of events.

AAJ: Yeah, I guess you were recording all over the country, weren't you?

PM: Yeah, there were like each duet with a completely different session.

AAJ: Yeah, I mean, was their rehearsals at all... were they even necessary?

PM: There were no rehearsals for anything. They were completely spontaneous.

AAJ: And you hadn't played with any of those people.

PM: Exactly.

AAJ: The things with Mike Stern were amazing.

PM: Yeah, I really enjoyed that.

AAJ: I'm sure.

PM: Yeah, well, Mike is just a pleasure to be with.

AAJ: Yeah, yeah, he's a great guy.

PM: Yeah, for sure.

AAJ: You seem to be in a state of perpetual open-mindedness and gratitude, even more so since the operation. Do you feel that?

PM: In a way, yes I do, you know I just... there were periods of time where it seemed that creative output had reached its end, you know, and I was really surprised, I was shocked after recovery that recovery included reactivating my entire career. I was really happy about that.

AAJ: Yeah. Were you surprised that that even happened... that there was a catalyst?

PM: Yeah, absolutely.

AAJ: When you hear your Prestige or Muse sides what do you hear as far as any difference in your playing or conception, from that time to now?

PM: I wish I could answer that. Primarily the problem in answering that question is that I rarely listen to any of those performances or any of those sessions.

AAJ: Right, oh, I'm sure. But I'm sure you're aware of them as well.

PM: Yeah, yes I am aware of them. One of the most effective natures of each of these albums was the continuance of social interaction with a lot of great people. And in some senses, they demanded more of my attention in terms of remembering events and remembering different aspects of those sessions. It was the people that I remember more than the music itself.

AAJ: So seeing faces, hearing voices, that kind of jog your memory?

PM: Exactly. Yeah. exactly.

AAJ: Interesting. Do you feel that you left anything behind; that you lost anything that you'd maybe be able to use now?

PM: No I don't feel that way primarily because I really don't see any value other than the events themselves and the archives of history, you know. In the past... it's the past.

AAJ: Being in the moment...

PM: The moment is the issue, is the primary issue at this point.

AAJ: Absolutely. I think few know you've created music of such variety, they know you primarily as a jazz artist.

PM: Sure.

AAJ: But you've got orchestrations, electronic music, solo guitar pieces, a ballet. You know, it's like, how do people categorize you? Where do they put you in the bins at Tower? Of course, a lot of the stuff doesn't get put out. How do you transcend being known publicly as a jazz artist and privately as simply being a creative force?

PM: Well, I think there are two realities, you know. They work hand in hand. The only difference is that privately there is no marketing taking place with regards to those particular creative shapes, you know? And I don't expect that, they're just personal events during very private moments and the intimacy of it is enough in itself. I don't know what to say about that. I think that my main concern, as a priority, is jazz guitar. And it still is.

AAJ: I don't know if I should say 'passed up,' but I guess you passed up invitations to work with Ray Charles and Oscar Peterson apparently?

PM: Sure, yeah, years ago.

AAJ: Those collaborations would've been something.

PM: Well, you know, I was offered the job with Ray Charles' band. I passed that primarily because there was a choice to go with John Handy's band as opposed to Ray Charles.'

AAJ: Right, thats what you did, yeah.

PM: Yeah, so the same with Oscar Peterson. At that particular time, Joe Pass had asked me if I would do him a favor to take that engagement on, you know. And, I was in the midst of a number of other things. If I remember correctly, that was during the period of Baiyina, an album I did for Prestige Records.

AAJ: The Clear Evidence, yeah.

PM: Yeah, Clear Evidence. And I was really involved in terms of committing myself to directions and paths that really had very little to do with that particular arena, you know. And my decision was to continue seeking the opportunity as a leader in my own right, as opposed to taking advantage of a great opportunity but still being a sideman and per se.

AAJ: Right... when you're that much in demand you just can't split yourself in half.

PM: Well, you know, it's a funny thing. We're each... I believe each of us is blessed with specific gifts, you know, and that's one of the reasons why each of us look different. As a sideman, there are certain responsibilities that are not necessarily in tune with your gifts and because of that reduce your continuity to mediocrity, comparatively.

AAJ: (laughs)

PM: And I personally came to a point in my life where, maybe it was a mistake to even perceive that way, but I made a decision to take advantage specifically of the gifts that were given to me, personally, without having to adhere and uphold responsibilities that were to illuminate the gifts of others. So this I think is a decisive point in anyone's career where they become a leader in the sense of structuring a canopy that is really designed for their own shape.

AAJ: That makes a lot of sense.

PM: Yeah. And I think that that is one of the best things to be done. Of course, you know, there is a danger in that ..in time if that's pursued to an extreme. One becomes out of touch with the nature of things in terms of surroundings and social interaction for the sake of growing and evolving with others, you know. So that's one of the reasons why I'm enjoying what I'm doing right now with all the different sessions. Again back to taking a place to respond and be part of a collective whole, you know, where ... but at this particular point, I can understand it a lot better and enjoy it a lot better than I did in the years past when I was a lot younger, you know?

AAJ: I guess there are certain things you have to go through whether they're painful or not.

PM: Sure.

AAJ: To get to where your supposed to be.

PM: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's really important.

AAJ: I know it's sometimes hard relegating whatever creativity I have to music alone. Not many people know that you do the sketches and calligraphy and everything. When and how did that begin? Was it a part of the recovery process?

PM: I think that it's impossible to focus one's attention upon one given (thing), all the time... and that being the guitar. Calligraphy has come about throughout my life. It always emerged under circumstances where that was my only tool, penmanship. On behalf of sketches and any of these other factors, there are times when I find it difficult to absorb more of the music. It's becoming overwhelming at times and, you know, its leads to a point where I feel overloaded with it. And I need to... I need to push away from it for a while. And in periods like that I really become committed to what I'm doing, even a hobby, you know, and many times that took place with computers, with regards to the artwork on the computer itself—graphic art—or in terms of writing... you know, in my diaries with a pen; penmanship. So, that's really been rewarding in the sense of a certain level of artistry, of concern about the quality of what I'm doing and in a sense, I think that's a part... it's part of being a Virgo (laughs).

AAJ: (laughs). There you go. That was the perfect answer.

PM: Well, its true (laughs).

AAJ: Yeah, I'm sure, you know. Sometimes it just comes down to your personality.

PM: (laughs) Yes, thats very true.

AAJ: You know, who you are.

PM: Exactly (laughs).

AAJ: That's funny, that's great. What was the hardest part of the loss of memory for you? How did you deal with... I mean, was it predominantly fear of the unknown?

PM: No. I think in light of the experience in total that I've gone through so far, the most important part of that was the need for individualism; the need to be able to establish an identity once again. And it was very difficult to do so having lost touch with everything that had given the strength to build up to that point in my life in terms of the roots of the tree itself, had been blindly lost, you know?

AAJ: Not knowing what you were missing what caused you to want to reach out and regain what you didn't know you'd lost on some level?

PM: Boredom. Boredom and the lack of interest in many things. I mean there were periods of depression during those times.

AAJ: Oh yeah, I've read a lot about that.

PM: Yeah, for recovery. And I think that as much as we can fear elements of that nature, its the irony of it is its very those very latent elements, you know, fear itself, that leads us to make a decision and it was exactly that that caused me to pick up a guitar, and even though it was a hobby at the time, and relearn it.

AAJ: That's amazing. That just doesn't seem, you know, right for you to be saying that—as a hobby—I mean, being that you focus so much and commit to whatever's at hand.

PM: Well, what I really picked up, first and foremost was the computer, and the more I doodled and played with it the closer I got to the process, due to the same innate needs.

AAJ: The computer was your catalyst.

PM: Yeah, that was the catalyst. And finally, it crossed over into music itself again. And that led to wanting to be able to be functional with music on other tools as well, you know, and there were plenty of guitars around. And I finally started picking them up again.

AAJ: I know you've got clinics coming up in Europe.

PM: Yeah.

AAJ: Have you gotten too busy to teach at home?

PM: No, in fact, five minutes before your call came through I was speaking with someone who was coming in from Vancouver, that when I returned from New York City asked if I would do some private time with him. And I feel good about that.

PM: Yeah, I've had friends that have come back from lessons with you and said that, you know, I don't know if they had any preconceptions, but they probably felt that with other teachers you're going to get a half an hour, an hour and they might've spent the whole afternoon with you...

PM: Sure.

AAJ: And that was certainly a great surprise, you know, the kind you don't tend to come across too often.

PM: Well, there's something about aging... (laughs).

AAJ: (laughs)... Yeah, there is.

PM: (laughs) That causes situations that, you know, inherently... just dissolve our youth and our childhood because of the responsibilities that we feel and certain levels that we find it necessary to live up to.

AAJ: Yeah.

PM: I personally always had a great amount of fun, you know, just interacting with guitar players and I still do and it really, it lengthens my youth, and it's something that's never really changed.

AAJ: Right, it's like energy that you just toss back and forth.

PM: Exactly, yeah.

AAJ: That's funny, but life will hand you as much stress as (laughs)...

PM: As you want... (laughs)

AAJ: (laughs) Yeah, as you'll accept, yeah.

PM: Yeah, sure.

AAJ: What do you hope to impart to students that visit you?

PM: You know, my need is to be able to be as clear as possible and to provide access to the instrument itself as a teacher. I think it's a form of logic... that can be shared, in a sense. But not necessarily create a decisive move for any individual unless they themselves, you know, see a way for fulfilling their own needs, which came long before the interaction. But, you know, I hope I can provide something that endlessly unravels more information from its own source. And that's what the guitar does in terms of what I've seen in it. It has become the teacher for me and what I try to do is share that, and in doing so, prevent the need for a teacher.

AAJ: So, you're basically illuminating a window or a door.

PM: Yeah, exactly. It's kind of like opening Pandora's box.

AAJ: There you go, yeah; difficult to close.

PM: Sure.

AAJ: The first experience that I had even known about your music was when you came down to the Guitar Conservatory in SA.

PM: Sure.

AAJ: I don't know if you would remember that but, I think it was '79.

PM: I certainly remember San Antonio.

AAJ: Jackie King...

PM: Yeah, sure, of course. I don't remember it, you know...

AAJ: In detail.

PM: In detail.

AAJ: Right, of course not. I remember you showed up with an Adamas acoustic and handed out some very cryptic information on string organization, (the) 12 point star.

PM: Sure.

AAJ: The octave chromatic displacements and some classically influenced solo guitar pieces ("Country Roads").

PM: Yeah.

AAJ: Can you just briefly discuss some of those?

PM: Well, you know, it's difficult to just scratch the surface of any one of them.

AAJ: True.

PM: You know, when I refer to string combinations or string groups, they're every possible combination of strings on the guitar—the six strings. They can be single string, single note line forms, you know: melodies. They can be 3 note chords, 4 note chords, 5 note chords, or even 6 note chords using all six strings. Or any combination of spaces in between what's being used and what's not being used.

AAJ: Which would also include some impossibilities, too.

PM: Yeah, exactly. So in that sense, we're going back to what I had briefly brought to your attention, which resulted in its conclusion as Pandora's box. These are access points to the logic of how the machine was built. And the same thing with multiple symbols, you know, that you would not only see in music but you would be reminded in everything else you see. So that if it can be seen that a 12 hour clock or 24 hour clock, in a circular formation, you know—from 12 noon to 12 midnight—can also be seen as (a) 12 tone row.

AAJ: Ok.

PM: This too is a repetition of symbols that are used throughout the history of mankind. And I think that that provides proof of a logic that is simplistic as well as complex, depending upon how one sees it, you know? And to be able to bring that up as a subject of perception, you know, in a class, to me, is kind of important. So that it can be seen that music can be drawn from anything. So that if you had a diminished row and you saw that (as) diminished scales or chords and you saw that as 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock, you see the inversions of those notes, you see. And if you see it as 12 o'clock, 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock you see the augmented triangle in the same clock.

AAJ: Three from twelve, yes.

PM: Yeah, three of them from twelve. So, in a sense, the music is coming out of the world itself, you know, that surrounds us and every time we take a walk we see so many different things. And it's when we put the music down the music is always there, we just cease to find it interesting in terms of a priority topic. But it's latent in everything that surrounds us and I've found, at least personally, that that was an interesting and a valuable factor to bring to the attention of serious music students.

AAJ: That makes a lot of sense. As far as your other concepts, you know, the diminished and dominant and the minor/augmented chord explorations and extensions and so on. Do you have anything that you're currently working on of that magnitude?

PM: Well, you know, everything I have ever done in the past—which a lot of it I don't even remember, as well as anything that I can do in the future, is still, you know, dependent on all of the factors we're discussing at the moment. Because they're universal concepts and they're endless and it's up to the individual... and I also think that it's impossible for any of us to be able to experience the totality of any one of these things.

AAJ: Oh, of course not, no.

PM: There are just so many different facets that they apply to that it's really difficult. So, to be able to give you another idea of it is kind of hard because it itself circles everything that I've ever done, am doing or ever will do.

AAJ: Right. I mean, I know these things are universal but, I mean, life is not long enough for any of us to fully comprehend them.

PM: Sure.

AAJ: There's perspective, there's context, there's perception...

PM: Yeah.

AAJ: So, and because of that, I guess, each one of us pretty much conceives of these things differently and obviously results in our playing not being the same, at all, but having threads that combine or connect.

PM: Sure, yeah.

AAJ: So we each develop our own styles even if we were to draw from, maybe, the same template.

PM: Yeah, thats absolutely true.

AAJ: There's something else at play there.

PM: Yeah, for sure. And there are also the cultural facets or the cultural aspects of where we sit in terms of the importance of how much our gift can be utilized and shared with others. I think that the present times are quite different than, let's say, the '70s... in terms of marketing, in terms of bookings, in terms of the amount of money that is available, you know, in terms of working as a musician. There are so many things that we are going to experience whether we like it or not. And I think from the... as a result of this, I think the essence of it is how well we can grow from this; how much we can gain from all of this experience, and in a sense, maintain as much optimism as possible, through it, you know. And I think that that's essential. You know, there's a lot of things that happened in the '60s and happened in the '70s that a number of students in all the conservatories worldwide are trying to gain some information on, you know, trying to gain some experience about these things. And the one thing that is missing that is not available for them, is the culture. The nature of the culture itself. We can study... a student can study something that is recorded in 1968 or 1969 or even 1975... and want to attain the sparkling magic that is taking place in that performance... but is losing sight of the fact that what was surrounding that.

AAJ: Right. The life.

PM: Yeah. What was surrounding that performance no longer exists.

AAJ: Yeah. What do you think that's missing now. I mean, how do you describe that?

PM: Well, you know, I don't think there's anything missing nowadays concerning culture itself. And I think what is available has to be perceived as realistically as possible and (coughs)—excuse me—and performed within accordingly. You can never take away the beauty of a wonderful person and it seems that that is one of the most powerful things about performing in public: there are so many wonderful people that really enjoy the art itself, that it really stimulates the artist, you know. So that isn't missing. There's nothing missing with that.

AAJ: I guess I meant what's changed that...

PM: The surrounding where the people are gathered has changed.

AAJ: Ok.

PM: And the industry itself (doorbell) has changed a great deal, as well. Mike, can you hold on just for a moment, someone's at my door?

AAJ: Be glad to, ok.

PM: Hold on... Mike, sorry for the delay.

AAJ: That's ok. Do you need to run?

PM: No, not at all. That was my window cleaner.

AAJ: Oh, ok.

PM: Yeah, so here are the kids in the conservatories trying to learn more about jazz and losing sight of what surrounds it, in real time. And I think that that's a story in itself and it's a study that is really, really important, you know. And the best thing they can do to learn more about it is to learn the basics of the art itself and then to go out into the realtime life and experience it like that.

AAJ: Right. You can't just get it all out of a school or educational situation.

PM: Exactly. And that goes the same for the recorded history of it. You can copy Wes Montgomery but you can't experience what was taking place at that time in our culture.

AAJ: No, and that had a lot to do with why he played what he did and the way he did.

PM: Exactly.

AAJ: You know, because of his surroundings.

PM: Sure.

AAJ: You actually had the chance to play with him a few times.

PM: Sure, yeah.

AAJ: How was that. I mean, that must've been (an) incredible situation.

PM: It was just great. It really was, yeah.

AAJ: You guys just hung out and... you didn't do gigs though...

PM: No, we didn't perform publically. We used to hang out in hotel rooms and we used to hang out at whatever club we were both working at, if we were in close vicinity. Or, on the other hand, there are a lot of times that Wes would be leaving a specific engagement and I would be coming in with the leader that I was with... you know, and I would always see him then, as well. And we'd get together at the hotel, before he left town and before I started on the next night for the gig.

AAJ: That just sounds like such a great experience.

PM: Yeah, it was really great.

AAJ: I mean, there's what you're talking about, the culture.

PM: Sure.

AAJ: I guess you and 'Trane both took lessons from (guitarist) Dennis Sandole?

PM: Yeah, I was with Dennis approximately for about four months. That's before I left Philadelphia and went on the road.

AAJ: Oh, I guess I assumed it was longer than that.

PM: No, no it wasn't..but I was so dedicated to the instrument at that time that I had the opportunity of meeting 'Trane there and meeting quite a number of really great players... Benny Golson... God, there were so many great players there.

AAJ: Yeah, I've always found it interesting that they were going to a guitarist when, you know, guitar players get the rap for the kind of being behind the eight ball as far as the cutting edge of jazz.

PM: Sure, absolutely.

AAJ: As far as improvisation goes.

PM: Yeah, of course.

AAJ: I notice you don't use key signatures... everything is essentially notated as if it were in C, which, of course, it isn't, but...

PM: Yeah, that's the funny thing. I was talking about that with someone last night because I'm going into the Iridium in New York City starting next week and (organist) Larry Goldings is in the group. And Larry sent me some charts and all of the charts are in four flats, five flats, six flats.

AAJ: (laughs).

PM: You know, and I was saying to ...

AAJ: You mean he doesn't know you very well?

PM: No. This is the first time we'll ever play together... so I prefer writing almost like twelve-tone music with, you know, with no specific key center. And doing it that way as opposed to having to remember that that note is flat when it looks... free.

AAJ: Right, yeah.

PM: It just takes a lot off my mind.

AAJ: He's an amazing player.

PM: Yeah, so I hear, you know, and I've heard some of his new material and it's really great.

AAJ: So, you're not on the gig as a sideman...

PM: No, in fact, I'm leading the band, and also Larry's featured with it, and also Idris Muhammed is the drummer on this.

AAJ: Ah, thats great.

PM: So, I'm really looking forward to it.

AAJ: Is there a fourth member?

PM: No. We had given thought to a quartet and then finally came to the conclusion of just doing it as a trio.

AAJ: The organ would cover the bass.

PM: Yeah, absolutely.

AAJ: Yeah.

PM: We were gonna do it with tenor.

AAJ: I see... so, how did it come about that you would work with someone that you've never played with, you know, with you as a leader, and I guess no rehearsals?

PM: Well, it came about due to the fact that Joel Criss had called my manager and asked my manager if I'd be interested in going into The Iridium with an organ group. I haven't performed with an organ group since 1965, with Don Patterson.

AAJ: Its been that long?

PM: Its been that long, yeah. I mean with the exception of the fact that recently I just did an album with Jack McDuff. But I haven't really performed with organ for, gosh man, it's thirty years.

AAJ: That's hard to believe. I mean, you were part of the whole original organ trio thing.

PM: Yeah, exactly.

AAJ: And its funny how its come back now. I mean everybody from Medeski, Martin and Wood and...

PM: Sure.

AAJ: Metheny and Brecker. All these guys are doing it now.

PM: Yeah, in fact, next week or the week after, in fact, it starts on the..we'll be recording on the 6th of June... It's an album that is a tribute to Charlie Earland, you know, and Joey DeFrancesco is playing on it and Eric Alexander and myself and a number of other long term friends of Charlie, you know.

AAJ: Oh, that sounds so great.

PM: So, it seems that there's a lot of organ taking place right now.

AAJ: Right. Oh yeah, there absolutely is. I mean, I guess something needs to go away for a little while before you realize, you know, you've missed it... I've got a couple of quotes I wanted to run by you...

PM: Sure.

AAJ: There's a Miles quote, regarding essence... "the only way to make art is to forget what is unimportant." Any thoughts on that?

PM: Well, it's hard for me to say, in terms of focusing... you know, I certainly find the interest and the necessity of not focusing upon what's unimportant.

AAJ: Well, of course.

PM: Yeah (laughs).

AAJ: But sometimes, sometimes in the moment (laughs) it's hard to tell what's important and what's unimportant, you know, in real time, I guess.

PM: Well, I think the most important thing to focus upon, at all times is the truth: being honest with yourself.

AAJ: Absolutely.

PM: And doing what you really wanna do. And I think that there are times; a good example of that is: in 1976 I was doing a concert with the original 'Joyous Lake' and we were performing in about 40 miles outside of Marseilles, in France, on a mountaintop. It was called Riviera '76.

AAJ: Ok.

PM: And there were about 283,000 people at that particular performance. And it was outdoors, of course. It was like a mini Woodstock... for jazz... and Joe Cocker was involved with it at that time, performing, and Chick Corea's group was there: Return to Forever. Weather Report was in it. It was like a high, heavy-duty fusion.

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