All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Interviews

1,814

Pat Martino: To Renew A Life In Jazz

Victor L. Schermer By

Sign in to view read count

AAJ: You give master classes. The late, great trombonist, J.J. Johnson used to reiterate two things when giving master classes- and he had an impish sense of humor, so you never knew when he was pulling your leg, but he'd say 'Practice long tones' and 'Minimize your body movements.' Now, that seems trivial, but I can see how that's related to his 'be-bop' approach: clean, fast, straightforward, with no vibrato. So he needed an excellent tone and had to concentrate his energy. So, I'm wondering what you want to teach experienced guitarists. What do you tell them?

PM: I try to activate their interpretation of what they're witnessing before them, in terms of categorization, with regard to their own intentions. If their intentions are on the basis of craftsmanship, I direct them to instructors of the craft. If their intention is towards accuracy with respect to a broader intake from their intentions, their priority, the creative force, then I go into master classes to amplify the options and alternatives that are available to them, from the simplest point of view. So, since they're looking for more complexity in terms of expansion, growth, and education, I bring before them the necessity of these two polarized sides of the same coin, namely their intention, and the two sides are its polarity.

AAJ: That's the point- to raise them to another level. How does that come about?

PM: By showing them that the secret is that the answers to their questions are in all things around them, indeed within the distractions themselves. The only thing that's distracted is their interpretation of what their priority is.

AAJ: Can you give an illustration of that?

PM: They come to me specifically for the guitar.

AAJ: Not jazz as well?

PM: I would say jazz as well, but jazz is an invisible coat. It's a veil of many substantial considerations. And that veil surrounds the instrument they've chosen to activate in itself. In the case of the guitar, there are many ways of seeing this. And I wouldn't rule out my opening the I Ching, the book of changes, the sixty-four hexagrams, from China. Nonetheless, if someone were to see this in a bookstore, and opened it, they would see sixty-four hexagrams, and they would see the secret to every string combination on the guitar. But the book was not there for that purpose. It was there for a much more complex source of philosophy from a different culture, a different part of the world, a different time. Now, they're under the impression as a student, that the only thing of value would be a study of Bach's 'Well-tempered Clavier.' But in the I Ching, the secret of every string combination on the guitar can be seen literally by opening one page. So here's an interface of intentions: the one who wants to learn about philosophy, and another who wants to learn about music. But there is a third factor here which is combinatorial of the two. That's what I have an interest in sharing: the ability to witness the opposites in conjunction with each other as one necessity.

AAJ: That seems very abstract.

PM: I can't help that. It's the same as the right hand and the left hand.

AAJ: Yes, I can see myself going to China and studying the I Ching, but what would be its impact on the music?

PM: Again, we're thinking about a very simple, basic thing for the guitar, the mechanism itself, the blueprint.

AAJ: Can you explain that a bit more concretely for us?

PM: OK, fine. The skeletal framework for the system of symbols that the I Ching is based upon sixty four symbols, and each has six straight lines. There are two types of lines, one is whole, the other is broken. Now, the guitar has six strings. The broken line stands for a string that isn't used. Therefore, if the fifth and sixth are broken, and the other four are not, wow, that's the fourth, third, second, and first strings of the guitar.

AAJ: That's fingering.

PM: That's string use. And any chord that can be played on those four strings, that's what that symbol represents. And any of the other sixty-three symbols, with also the inclusion of the 64th, which is 'all strings broken,' and that is just as important as any other combination because that's silence, that's the rest.

AAJ: How does this help the musician?

PM: This helps the guitarist by visually seeing the strings all at once. Without the teacher saying, well here's a chord on this set of strings. This week memorize that. Here's two chords next week for this set. Or how about this: this semester we're going to teach you at the university this string group, and we're going to deal with the sixth, the fifth, the fourth, and the third strings; the fifth, the fourth, the third, and the second; and the fourth, the third, the second, and the first. This is what the university is doing, but here, I walk in with the I Ching and say, open it. See this plate here, on this plate is every combination of guitar strings! What you're receiving this semester is symbolized here. These represent all that was ever done on this six string instrument, all that is being done at the moment, and all that ever will be done. Therefore, you're now seeing a revelation of a symbol that represents the inventiveness and the simplicity of the inventor's method, in other words, how certain things remain the same, how the square, if tipped to the side, has one of its four points facing upward, you now can see 12 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 9 o'clock. Which is similar to north, east, south, and west. Which is similar to spring, summer, fall, and winter. Which is similar to many other things that are repetitive replications of inventiveness, in terms of systematic procedure.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Interviews
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
New York Beat
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
  • Nexus by Victor L. Schermer
Read more articles
Formidable

Formidable

HighNote Records
2017

buy
Nexus

Nexus

HighNote Records
2016

buy
Alone Together

Alone Together

HighNote Records
2012

buy
 

Undeniable: Live at...

HighNote Records
2012

buy
Undeniable

Undeniable

HighNote Records
2012

buy
Pat Martino Quartet: Undeniable

Pat Martino Quartet:...

HighNote Records
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read Paula Shocron: Paths to a New Sound Interviews
Paula Shocron: Paths to a New Sound
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: February 19, 2018
Read Dan Monaghan: The Man Behind The Swing Interviews
Dan Monaghan: The Man Behind The Swing
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: February 16, 2018
Read William Parker: Embracing The Unknown Interviews
William Parker: Embracing The Unknown
by Luke Seabright
Published: February 14, 2018
Read Helle Henning: Nordic Sounds Interviews
Helle Henning: Nordic Sounds
by Suzanne Lorge
Published: February 14, 2018
Read Mark Morganelli: Adds Club Owner To His Resume Interviews
Mark Morganelli: Adds Club Owner To His Resume
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: February 12, 2018
Read GoGo Penguin: Just Another Band From The Small Blue Planet Interviews
GoGo Penguin: Just Another Band From The Small Blue Planet
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 9, 2018
Read "Hugh Masekela: Strength in Music and Character" Interviews Hugh Masekela: Strength in Music and Character
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: January 23, 2018
Read "Dominic Miller: From Sting to ECM" Interviews Dominic Miller: From Sting to ECM
by Luca Muchetti
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Nicole Johänntgen: Henry And The Free Bird" Interviews Nicole Johänntgen: Henry And The Free Bird
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "SFJAZZ Collective: Remembering Miles" Interviews SFJAZZ Collective: Remembering Miles
by R.J. DeLuke
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "Piotr Turkiewicz: Putting Wroclaw On The Jazz Map" Interviews Piotr Turkiewicz: Putting Wroclaw On The Jazz Map
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "Lwanda Gogwana: Tradition and Innovation" Interviews Lwanda Gogwana: Tradition and Innovation
by Seton Hawkins
Published: September 9, 2017