Jazz guitarist Pat Martino reveals how he stayed upbeat after brain aneurysm...
Pat Martino has made a career out of wowing others through music, tearing through killer guitar riffs since the early 1960s. But it is the jazz guitarist's remarkable story of survival that truly strikes a chord.
By Ryan Kneller, Of The Morning Call
The four-time Grammy-nominated artist spoke of this — his recovery from a near-fatal brain aneurysm in the early 1980s — at a recent presentation at St. Luke's University Hospital–Fountain Hill.
The hour-long program, moderated by ArtsQuest's Vice President of Programming Patrick Brogan, was held in conjunction with a Musikfest Cafe concert that Martino played later that day as part of ArtsQuest's monthlong RiverJazz festival.
Martino, who has made more than 25 albums, was born with arteriovenous malformation, an abnormality of blood vessels in the brain.
The condition eventually led to a brain tumor the size of a pear, which led to neurosurgery and the removal of 60 percent of his left temporal lobe. As a result, he woke from the operation with total amnesia — a virtual blank slate of memories.
Suddenly Martino had no recollection of his career, friends, family or even himself. His ability to play the instrument that made him successful also had become a blur.
"The first thing that came to my mind were two words: I am," said Martino, a Philadelphia native. "That, to me, was life speaking through me. I am alive. From that point forward, it was a recovery in terms of a decision to recover."
The healing process, while extremely difficult, provided Martino with a unique perspective, which he labels "the power of now."
"The past no longer existed and it no longer exists to this day — nor does the future," he says. "It's foolish to see the other side of that. The only thing that exists is now."
Today, the 69-year-old musician is healthy and performs regularly (both alone and with other musicians) at venues around the world.