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Renowned jazz musician Pat Martino has taken it to the next level - (photo credit to Pat Martino's web site)

 

Pat Martino (then Azzara) took a big step up to the big time by joining the Lloyd Price Orchestra

 

 

 

 

ENTERTAINMENT BEAT - PAT MARTINO - TAKES IT THE NEXT LEVEL

Jimmy Marr - National Radio Text Service

 

 

Our booking agent Ben Vinci would often come to our engagements and sit and talk to us giving us advice. One time he advised us to go and see his Emanon band and listen to their incredible guitar player Pat Azzara. It was clear that Vinci was right with his appraisal as Azzara was astonishing. At the time I believe Pat was still in high school

 

PAT'S LIFE BEFORE FAME

Friday November 26, 2021

When I search the internet to find out what some of the friends I know are doing the one thing I dread is when the word IS becomes WAS and my relationship turns into I KNOW to I KNEW. That is the case when I recently searched for the famed jazz guitarist Pat Martino who passed away on the 1st of this month.

I first became aware of Pat, then named Azzara, when he was 16-years-old. He was a member of a band named the Emanon which spelled backwards means NO NAME.

His band and my first band, as a member, the Four Sons were booked by the same agent Ben Vinci. Vinci booked bands part time as he was a clerk for the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA). Given his time restraints Vinci only booked only four bands our two, the Dynatones and the Skylarks.

The interesting thing is three of these bands were young and the majority of the members were under the legal age to work nightclubs was 21. At the time I was 18 going on 19. The other three members were 16, 17 and 19. The youngest two were still in high school.

Vinci was very particular who he handled since his time was valuable and his bands had to be good enough to get the job the first time he approached a club owner for a booking. Vinci was like a father to us and proud of his band selections. Since we, being so young and talented gave him somewhat of a gold star of approval for being someone busy club owners could take their time to deal with. We were working clubs where bands were the best Philly had to offer that worked casinos in Las Vegas.

Vinci would often come to our bookings and sit and talk to us giving us advice. One time he advised us to go and see his Emanon band and listen to their incredible guitar player Pat Azzara.

Bands in Philly often went together to go to a clubs and check out the competition and maybe learn something. When we saw Azzara it was clear that Vinci was right with his appraisal as he was incredible. At the time I believe Pat was still in high school. As usual with Philadelphia bands if a band stayed together for a year that was amazing. Both of our bands broke up a little over a year later.

Being that I was not well known or very good since I was still learning my instrument I decided to put together a band and get a gig (booking). I needed a guitar player, called Pat and he agreed to work with me. Basically the band was a pick up band with little or no rehearsal. My definition for that type of band is a survival band aka a bunch of musicians in need of money with no direction.

The trick for me was Pat lived in South Philly and me in New Jersey. Pat didn't drive or have a car which meant I had to go to his house to go over songs I wanted to do. It was then I met his father who was a good man, who I just found searching for info on Pat, was also a musician. This shocked me since if you were to grade our skills on a scale of 1 to 10 Pat was a 10 and I was barely a 1.

At that time Pat had a previous history of success. It was known that he backed up then pop star Bobby Rydell who had hit songs Wild One, Volare and Wildwood Days.

The job and possibly only job I had with Pat was in Pennsville, New Jersey at the Crescendo Lounge. That required me to drive over the bridge to pick up Pat and take him to the job and take him home. Every day I crossed that bridge four times a day to get this done. In a sense I felt he was my responsibility and I somewhat looked at him as being my little brother. Make no mistake Pat was extremely intelligent and was to be taken seriously, he wasn't about joking around.

Since I was the only singer in the band I asked Pat if he knew any songs. He agreed to help me out and sang Ray Charles songs Just For a Thrill, Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying and one other which I don't recall. Pat had a good voice, good not great but he sold the songs. He had a Ray Charles quality and tone to his vocals.

During the week I found out that our band followed Lloyd Price who had two hit songs. He also had a big band with horns. I later found that the manager of the club informed Pat that Price was looking for a guitar player. On the final night of the job Pat informed me on the way home that he was moving on.

It was a no brainer since I paid him $25 a night and Price had money, fame and great musicians to warrant Pat's departure decision.

I was somewhat stunned but clearly understood. When Price's band came to Philly to appear at as I recall Pep's Show Bar, I went to see Pat. When he saw me from the stage sitting at the bar he nodded and came over after the set. We remained friends butů as time went on he became a better friend.

TO BE CONTINUED

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