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Here and Now! The Autobiography of Pat Martino by Pat Martino with Bill Milkowski

Matt Lohr reviews guitar legend Pat Martino's memoir

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Pat Martino

As co-writer Bill Milkowski suggests in his introduction to Here and Now!, the autobiography of legendary guitarist Pat Martino, the most remarkable thing about this book is that it exists at all. In 1980, with his career flourishing, Martino suffered a near-fatal aneurysm, the result of an arterial entanglement in his brain that had caused him seizures and hallucinations for years. Martino survived, but the result was near-total amnesia. He battled back from harmful medications and tentative re-exploration of his instrument to find personal solace, romantic fulfillment (he married fellow guitarist Ayako Asahi in 1997) and, thankfully, his chops, beginning the second act of his career as a respected elder statesman of jazz. It’s a blessing that Martino is still with us to share this remarkable story, even if the resulting volume sometimes reads more like notes for a memoir than the finished product.

Only the first two-thirds of Here and Now! constitute a biographical treatment of Martino. The book covers his early experience with R&B legend Willis “Gator Tail” Jackson, his debut solo recording El Hombre (1967) and subsequent, more experimental discs like the following year’s Indian-inflected Baiyina and 1977’s Joyous Lake, featuring what many believe to be Martino’s best backing group, with Delmar Brown on Fender Rhodes and Kenwood Dennard on drums. He deals with the long road to recovery following his surgery, and how a solid practice regimen, accompanied by the attention of his always-encouraging parents, got him back playing better than ever.

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