Memories of David O’Rourke – News, reviews, articles and commentaries from the London jazz scene and beyond



David O’Rourke wrote this personal tribute as a thank you to Pat Martino . The The Irish guitarist and arranger has lived in New York since the 1980s. These personal memories clearly show how Pat Martino’s music is rooted in a culture of generosity and extended family.

David O’Rourke writes:

Be yourself…” “Be yourself,” they said to me, “Because everyone’s been taken…” and of course the adult me ​​completely agrees with these feelings and would never dispute them, but the version of me in my late teens when I first heardPat Martino

… This is what I wanted to be. I would buy every album I could find, get a tape of the ones I couldn’t and try to play his solos, learning them using my father’s old reel recorder. Slow them down to half speed except that it wasn’t accurately calibrated and would come out a half step higher, but an octave lower. I would have the mixture of frustration of not being able to perform them at full speed right away, but I also found myself in awe of his note choices, even in slow motion. The opening notes of “Days Of Wine and Roses” enter the solo break. All the ballads from his album “We’ll Be Together Again”, and the timelessness of “Joyous Lake”! Phew, and I was wondering if I would ever hear him live or meet him …

(Image posted under the Fair Use / Fair Dealing provisions.)

Never meet your heroes “(?) “Never meet your heroes” – how many times have I been told this and how many times have they been proven wrong! I remember, in the winter of 1983, inVic Juris his apartment telling him that I envied him for studying with Pat Martino “Do you want to study with Pat?” I’ll give you her number and tell her I told you to call! I was stunned, what a generous thing Vic had to do and when I called Pat my life changed, forever! Coming back to that “Be Yourself” idea, some people had the Beatles’ 60s haircuts, bell stockings, etc., but for me it was this cover of Guitarist magazine (right image) – Pat in a denim shirt. I tried to get one and they weren’t trendy in Ireland anymore but I finally did I couldn’t get a solid Gibson L5 and all because I wanted to be that guy on the cover of Guitarist

whose game fascinated me.

First meeting Shortly after that phone call, cousinPaul McEvoy

, drove me to Philly to take my lesson with Pat – a 5 hour lesson, for an incredibly low charge! – he had prepared a booklet for me and I sat there in awe for about 5-10 minutes. He helped me out to a point where I saw him above all as a generous, humble and easy-going man but… a genius !!! I briefly slipped into an ‘OMG, it’s Pat Martino’ mode and immediately fell back into the warmth of his sharing. It started a friendship that I know I was lucky enough to have.

David O’Rourke and Pat Martino, winter 1983

The return…His return from the clean slate memory loss to relearning what many thought was gone forever (John mulhern

, your support and friendship from Pat here, has given us all so much more of his amazing gift to cherish). When I took my lesson with him, he was coming back from fits and memory loss and had regained much of his characteristic sound, but his confidence or desire to play hadn’t returned yet – but I didn’t. will never forget to watch in wonder as he produced incredible sounds with his Adamus two-handled nylon string a few feet away from me. Even with the inevitable loss that accompanies an aneurysm and the seizures it has had, I fully understood what this disposable ‘brains to burn’ line meant – neurology students often point out how other parts of the brain are trying to. compensate for these. that are compromised, for one reason or another, and some sort of remapping takes place. His in-depth mastery of such a wide variety of subjects was astounding, as was his constant quest to learn more.

How to approach this? I had never collaborated with an icon like this before… ” Years later, when Seth Abramson

and I was chatting with Pat, right off the Jazz Standard stage and we both told Pat how much we loved his ballad. Pat said sometimes that was all he wanted to do – just play ballads. I don’t remember how we got there, but Seth was asking him about an orchestral album and Pat’s face lit up when he said he wanted to do one and looked at me and me. said “I want to do this with him” and laughed. I remember telling him that if he was serious about it, so was I, and I asked him what was the next step? He told me when to call him, which allowed me to recover a bit after being away from the house for over a week. I called, we set a date for me to go to Philly, to the house where I had taken the course almost 30 years earlier. I didn’t know how to approach it, I had never collaborated with an icon like this before. Am I waiting for someone to tell me what he wanted to do? Do I suggest it to him? or will it feel like I’m pushing it in one direction. If I wait and come with nothing then what has to do with me? If I come up with full arrangements, it looks like I’m in control.

Get a glimpse of how Pat Martino continued to build his repertoire

I arrive at his home in Philly and in what would become routine when we met once a month he was playing for me whatever he was currently working on… a composition, stuff that sounded like his octave scattering ideas. , anything . Then he turned to me and said, “What did you have in mind? And I froze inwardly then decided to say exactly what I was thinking. I had recently seen Paul McCartney play at CitiField where he spent nearly three hours doing everything from the early Beatles to Wings to solo projects. I thought it was interesting how he had gone from just 2 or 3 Beatles songs to now seeing all of his work as something that he and his audience would appreciate. I told Pat that I thought if we just did standards, only originals, etc. that wouldn’t tell the whole story, but what about making his career so far , that we would include songs that he currently wanted to play. “What do you have for me? ‘ – I had an intro and the first chorus from the lead of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” scored with “The Great Stream” – I thought that would represent two sides of him to begin with. played the ballad first and looked at me while the orchestral part was played by the Sibelius software and said “Yeah man!” – then The Great Stream where he fixed a harmony that I got wrong, in the way sweetest. I had the absolute honor and excitement of having carte blanche while we teased the repertoire.

Memories of writing (and ice cream) sessions in Philly

John Mulhern – who helped save Pat from his biggest Los Angeles crisis in the 1980s – was his assistant, student, and engineer. He once asked me to make sure that we do a version of Michel Legrand’s aria “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” The project never reached the performance stage, but I had to spend one day a month with the man I considered a master, one of my all-time heroes. adjustments.

We would work solid for 2-3 hours and then me, Pat and Aya would go to one of the many places that Philly has to offer for dinner. I knew I had the privilege of sharing that moment – the drive to the restaurant with Pat driving the C chord that we had all learned) – and yes, the barber shop, where her dad played her ” Moonlight In Vermont ”, the Johnny Smith version for customers – WOW! We went to a pizzeria he frequented since he was a child. This is where Pat and Aya were thrilled when this Irishman got his first Spumoni – a three-layered Italian ice cream, with candied fruit and nuts. Where he went to school and met Charles Earland, he told me about going for hot chocolate with John Coltrane after a lesson with Dennis Sandole.

So we didn’t reach the finish line with such a huge project with so many moving parts but … I got to know what it feels like when a master like Pat lets you free to create and you are on the same page. Pat and Aya played a duet in their living room for me and I played Irish music for them.

There was a time when a few people asked us if they could attend our writing sessions. When I told Pat about it, he said, “I’d rather keep it for you and me until we’ve locked the directory before considering letting someone else in the room.” “I remember how great it was to hear him say that. I felt so honored that he trusted me that way.

With a little help from friends … Faithful love and support from his manager Joe donofrio

and his pupil and then friend John Mulhern cannot be overlooked. Then there’s Aya who stopped the surgery from happening, an operation that would likely have ended with him getting the chance to walk past the surgeon’s table. She is as gentle as he is available. I still have to mention Seth because he was the one who told me I had to walk into the club to hear Pat play that ballad he had never heard him play before, the Mingus song “Duke Ellington’s Sound Of Love “. He arranged to meet me there to make sure I didn’t miss this beautiful song and that Pat played it! Thanks Seth!

YES!! MEET your heroes! On that “Never Meet Your Heroes” tip, which has been proven wrong to me so many times with, of course, Pat, Louis Stewart and George Benson all of whom provided unparalleled mentorship and friendship. Previously, jazz was mostly a mentor-based environment and luckily in my case I came to the end of a lot – add the end to the mix.Bucky Pizzarelli , its director Dick Ables, Larry Willis

and too many for me to list here, so NO !!! I say meet your heroes! Hope the memories shared above show you how incredibly generous this genius was to all of us!

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