In your expertise, what are the main facets
of jazz guitar playing that a student should focus on more than
any other in his or her developing stages?
Students should always experience an endless fascination of
their own development. The instrument must always remain as childishly
playful as it was when they initially chose it as their favorite
What is it that separates a good player from a truly great jazz
guitarist? Is it a gift or can you learn it?
A question like this is difficult to answer, maybe because
it's similar as follows: "What is it that separates a good
human being from a truly great human being? Is it a gift or can
you learn it?" True learning results from intention, and
demands faith, hope, trust, endurance, commitment and most of
all fulfillment of itself with the failure of outside distractions
and their success as meaningful experiences. I think that these
are what ultimately separate the musician and the artist.
How important do you think sight reading is in your area
of the music profession?
Sight reading is a legitimate part of the craft and is extremely
necessary in certain formats. Jazz has spread into different areas
of conditions, some of which interact in formal classical settings
while others in more avant-garde formats; as well as everything
in between. I think it's eventually decided by the individual,
solely based on his or her professional comfort.
How important is TAB in your opinion?
I think TAB is useful for certain teachers and students. Personally
I've never used it.
As a professional player is there any one area of your
playing that you concentrated on as a student that there is never
any call for?
I've always enjoyed studying different kinds of music, and
there are a number of areas that I've rarely had the opportunity
to enjoy in public performance. A good example is the recording
project "Fire Dance". Its topic was based upon Indian
ragas. The last time I enjoyed something similar to it was recorded
30 years prior on one of my earlier albums; "Baiyina".
In both cases neither of these were performed publicly.
Is there a particular area of traditional jazz education
that you have disagreed with and which you think should be avoided?
I don't think that anything in jazz education should be avoided,
but I do feel that certain forms of instruction can be broadly
expanded. Jazz has a unique psychology and quite a number of these
elements should be included in its instruction. I disagree with
jazz education seen as a marketable package solely designed to
prepare its students to enter the "music business" alone.
Jazz and music in a broader sense can also be used as a tool to
better ones physical and spiritual perspectives in multiple ways
and can move to a much great inner and outer success. Again, I
think that depends on the individuals' intentions.
Is there a facet of jazz guitar education that you might
be personally known for? In other words if a student came to you
for musical inspiration, what might he or she get from you that
they might not get from another source?
The geometry of the guitar. A blueprint that immediately reveals
the instruments profundity.
What musicians, books or educational material turned your
musical world around as a developing artist?
As far as the musicians; Elliot Carter, John Coltrane, Wes
Montgomery, Olivier Messiaen, Johnny Smith, Aaron Copland, Hank
Garland, Miles, Wayne, Herbie, Ron and Tony..... etc., etc. This
can go on and on! In books; "A Course In Miracles";
brought about by Helen Schucman and William Thetford, "Gödel,
Escher, Bach" by Douglas R. Hofstadter are two of them but
once again: etc., etc.; there are many others.
Is it dangerous to practice too much? If so what do you
For me the word practice suggests being separate from the
event. It's like the anticipation of something that hasn't happened
yet. I've come to be more relaxed about these things, and do the
best I can under any circumstances.
What advice would you give to a jazz guitar student looking
to enter the music profession?
My advice is to be persistent, to remain focused on the moment.
To pay attention to all the beneficial things that come forth
along the way. There's a good in everything.
Where in your opinion is jazz guitar headed? Is there
any new vocabulary to be found?
I don't think I'm qualified to determine where it's headed. Too
many great players are moving in different directions simultaneously.
Quite some time ago I found a new vocabulary that helped me greatly;
(the use of the augmented and diminished parental forms). I'm
sure this will continue to happen with others in different ways
again and again.
What ambitions and goals do you have right now in your
To remain focused on each precious moment, and to continuously
plant the seeds. In time they shall flourish in their own special
Any other comments?
Music is much more than just a craft. It's the key to a doorway
that leads toward betterment.
Visit Pat at www.patmartino.com
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