Unforgettable: Pat Martino’s Amnesia
A child prodigy playing professionally at 15, soul jazz legend at 18, and recording star at 20, Martino was playing better than ever by his early 30’s. Witness Martino’s famous solo on tenor saxophonist Willis Jackson’s “The Breeze And I” from 1977’s Bar Wars. I’ve always loved this Latin standard. It’s been covered hundreds of times by pop, jazz and lounge artists, but this is an especially joyous rendition, with Martino’s solo starting 1:45 in.
Martino’s career up to this point was remarkable by any standard, but the next phase of his life was extraordinary. He started experiencing chronic headaches and had brain surgery in 1980 to correct an aneurysm, when tragedy struck. He woke up from the surgery with total amnesia — he remembered NOTHING about the guitar, his family or life. He spent the next 7 years re-learning the guitar by listening to his earlier recordings.
Fortunately, Martino’s story doesn’t end here.