Martino, McPartland to share North Side stage
Guitarist Pat Martino is in a period of rediscovery, but he is used to that.
His words make his upcoming album, “Tribute to Wes,” sound more like a look at himself than one at the music of crossover pioneer Wes Montgomery.
“What it is bringing out in me is a re-evaluation of it all,” he says of the thought that spawned this album. “It began to show me the ecstasy in the music that came out of me as a child.”
The Philadelphia native and resident says he thinks that will show in his concerts this weekend on the North Side. He will be performing with pianist Joey Calderazzo and says the music will reflect the spirit he has been finding by looking at Montgomery’s music.
“It has brought out a lot of the stuff I had forgotten,” he says.
He will be splitting the bill with the trio of pianist Marian McPartland, which also includes bassist Gary Mazzaroppi and drummer Glenn Davis. She, of course, is the 87-year-old jazz veteran who also is the host of National Public Radio’s music-interview show, “Piano Jazz.”
Her sense of discovery is more of a routine nature. She keeps busy doing concerts and the radio show, with no plans to slow down.
“I think retirement is silly,” she says. “I just can’t imagine living in a world where I wouldn’t be doing something I love.”
She says she doesn’t even mind when some people think of her as a radio show first, looking past the six-decade career she’s had as a performer.
“I don’t care what they think as long as they listen,” she says.
Martino, 61, obviously wants people to listen, too. He has been performing since 1961, but it hasn’t been a steady stretch. In the late ’70s, he began having excruciating headaches and in 1980 underwent surgery for a brain aneurysm that led to a loss of memory.
Not only did he not remember his parents, he didn’t know what to do with a guitar. In following months, a remarkable recovery began as his memory loss reversed.
He returned to performing in 1987, taking a break in the early ’90s when his parents became ill. But since 1994, he has been busy as a soloist, group leader and composer.
He also does teaching and school workshops, such as one he will do Friday at Duquesne University, Uptown.
He was last in Pittsburgh for the 2003 University of Pittsburgh Jazz Seminar and Concert.
Martino says his current re-examination of Montgomery began when he decided to examine some of the albums that meant a lot to him as a teenager. He was trying to get in touch with his feelings toward music, he says.
“Naturally, I have tried to copy a lot of Wes,” he says. “His use of octaves. Chord substitutions. Things like that. But what really came out was the excitement about the music that I had as a kid.”
He admits it’s sometimes possible to lose that zest in the middle of a career, and says he was thrilled to see it re-emerge as he looked at Montgomery’s music.
“I started looking at the past as a way of looking at myself and it just led to Wes’s music,” he says.
Pat Martino and Marian McPartland
When: 7:30 p.m. today, 8 p.m. Friday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, North Side.