This concert and The Shape of Jazz series are made possible by The Joyce and George Wein Foundation in memory of Joyce Wein.
Presented by Carnegie Hall in partnership with Absolutely Live Entertainment LLC.
When the anesthesia wore off, Pat Martino looked up hazily at his parents and his doctors, and tried to piece together any memory of his life.
One of the greatest guitarists in jazz, Martino had suffered a severe brain aneurysm and underwent surgery after being told that his condition could be terminal. After his operations, he could remember almost nothing. He barely recognized his parents and had no memory of his guitar or his career. He remembers feeling as if he had been "dropped cold, empty, neutral, cleansed ... naked."
In the following months, Martino made a remarkable recovery. Through intensive study of his own historic recordings, and with the help of computer technology, he managed to reverse his memory loss and return to form on his instrument. His past recordings eventually became "an old friend, a spiritual experience which remained beautiful and honest."
This recovery fits in perfectly with Martino's illustrious personal history. Since playing his first notes while still in his pre-teenage years, he has been recognized as one of the most exciting and virtuosic guitarists in jazz. With a distinctive, robust sound and gut-wrenching performances, he represents the best not just in jazz, but in all of music. He embodies thoughtful energy and soul.
Born Pat Azzara in Philadelphia in 1944, Martino was first exposed to jazz through his father, Carmen "Mickey" Azzara, who sang in local clubs and briefly studied guitar with Eddie Lang. He took the young Pat to all the city's hotspots to hear and meet Wes Montgomery and other musical giants. "I have always admired my father and have wanted to impress him. As a result, it forced me to get serious with my creative powers."
Martino became actively involved with the early rock scene in Philadelphia, alongside stars like Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Bobby Darin. His first road gig was with jazz organist Charles Earland, who was also a friend from high school. Martino's reputation soon spread among other jazz players, leading to bandleader Lloyd Price recruiting him to play alongside Slide Hampton and Red Holloway.
Martino moved to Harlem to immerse himself in the "soul jazz" played by Willis "Gatortail" Jackson and others. The organ trio concept had a profound influence on his rhythmic and harmonic approach, and he remained in that idiom as a sideman, gigging with Jack McDuff and Don Patterson. An icon before his 18th birthday, Martino was signed as a leader for Prestige Records when he was 20. His seminal albums from this period include classics like Strings!, Desperado, El Hombre, and Baiyina (The Clear Evidence), one of jazz's first successful ventures into psychedelia.
In 1976, while performing internationally with his fusion group Joyous Lake, Martino began experiencing seizures, which were eventually diagnosed as a result of an arteriovenousmalformation in his brain. After surgery and recovery, he resumed his career in 1987 when he appeared in New York, a gig that was released on a CD with an appropriate name: The Return. He then took another hiatus when both of his parents became ill and didn't record again until after their deaths.
Today, Martino lives in Philadelphia and continues to grow as a musician. His experiments with guitar synthesizers (begun during his rehabilitation) are taking him in the direction of orchestral arrangements, promising groundbreaking possibilities. Musicians flock to his door for lessons, and he offers not only the benefits of his musical knowledge, but also the philosophical insights of a man who has faced and overcome enormous obstacles. "The guitar is of no great importance to me," he muses. "The people it brings to me are what matter. They are what I'm extremely grateful for because they are alive. The guitar is just an apparatus."
Grammy-nominated organist Pat Bianchi continues to establish himself as one of the foremost organists on the scene today. His command of the instrument, harmonic prowess, and rhythmic intensity--as well as his sensitivity and versatility--are rivaled by few. In 2016, Bianchi was named Rising Star Organist by DownBeat magazine. He also has the honor of performing with both jazz guitar icon Pat Martino, and NEA Jazz Master and bebop saxophone legend Lou Donaldson.
Bianchi has just finished recording his seventh CD as a leader, which will be released on his record label 21H Records in the spring of 2017. He is also a featured artist on numerous recordings, including Tim Warfield's One For Shirley, which is in dedication to organist Shirley Scott, as well as guitarist Chuck Loeb's Plain 'n' Simple. Bianchi also pays homage to organist Larry Young on drummer Ralph Peterson's Unity Project's CD Outer Reaches.
Bianchi never looses sight of his need to grow as a musician, and he is constantly working to push his playing to the next level. Having the great fortune of apprenticing under a number of great masters in jazz has given him the confidence to spread his wings.
Carmen Intorre Jr. developed an early interest in music and began playing drums at the age of five. He has performed and recorded with numerous musicians, including George Benson, Larry Coryell, Wynton Marsalis, Monty Alexander, George Coleman, Eric Alexander, George Cables, Benny Golson, Richie Cole, Joe Locke, Lew Tabackin, Bobby Watson, Ira Sullivan, Bucky Pizzarelli, and many others.
A 2011 Grammy nominee for his co-producer credit on the critically acclaimed album by Joey DeFrancesco entitled Never Can Say Goodbye: The Music of Michael Jackson, Intorre also had the pleasure of performing alongside DeFrancesco and Dr. Lonnie Smith on the PBS show Legends of Jazz, hosted by Ramsey Lewis.
Receiving both his bachelor's and master's degrees from The Juilliard School, Intorre is always eager to uncover the latest information about music and drumming, and to share that information with others. As he explains, "Music is an opportunity for me to give up my soul, while in the process connecting with the audiences' souls as well. I want the musicians on the bandstand and the members of the audience to feel uplifted after a performance, to feel great about themselves through the experience that they encountered." Perhaps one word best describes Intorre and his music: joy.
Adam Niewood is a jazz improviser and American composer. He grew up in a musical household in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. His father, Gerry, was an improvising jazz musician and freelancing woodwind doubler; his mother, Gurly, was a classical clarinetist and pianist, with a full-roster of local piano students. "Piano lessons on the first floor, jazz on the third floor--there was music floating around in the house every day!" This environment lead to a young Adam marching around the dining room table with a penny whistle and first tooting into a soprano saxophone at the age of two. By the time he was five years old, Adam had tagged along with his parents on two world tours with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and Liza Minnelli.
Niewood's first official instrument was the clarinet in fourth grade, but he quickly gravitated towards the alto saxophone. In high school, his band director decided to switch him from alto to tenor. "The sound of the tenor got me. This is when I started checking out my father's recordings." A couple years later during his junior year in high school, he was given the opportunity to play second tenor in a big band that included Joe Romano, Larry Covelli, Lew Soloff, Don Menza, Steve Gadd, and his father. As he says, "That was all I needed to convince me that I wanted to go to music school and play music professionally."
Trumpeter Alex Norris grew up in Columbia, Maryland, where he began studying music at the age of nine. After graduating from high school, he studied at the Peabody Conservatory, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1990. Since relocating to New York in 1992, Norris has worked with the Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Toshiko Akiyoshi's Jazz Orchestra, and Maria Schneider's band. From 1994-1998, he was also a member of Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead. Norris has performed and recorded extensively in the bands of Lonnie Plaxico and Jason Lindner, and with Ralph Irizarry's Timbalaye. Additionally, he has worked with many noted jazz musicians, including Slide Hampton, Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Chris Potter, Carl Allen, John Patitucci, Mulgrew Miller, and Brian Blade. Being very active in Afro-Cuban jazz as well, he has worked with Andy and Jerry González, Manny Oquendo, Poncho Sanchez, and Chico O'Farrill.
In 1995, Norris earned his master's degree from the Manhattan School of Music. He since has served on the music faculties of the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, Towson University, and the City College of New York. In 2007, he received his doctorate from the University of Miami's Frost School of Music, where he remained on the faculty until 2008.
Norris now performs all over the world with his own jazz group and with Ron Carter's Great Big Band, the Mingus Big Band, Pat Martino, Alan Ferber's Big Band, Kyle Eastwood, Miguel Zenón, Amina Figarova, Michele Rosewoman, and many other jazz and Latin jazz artists. He is also a member of the jazz faculty at the Peabody Conservatory.