Mark McKnight
Guitarist Composer Educator

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Pat Martino Lines – ‘Oleo’ (1)

Welcome to ‘Notes on Notes’, a new regular feature through which I’ll share music and ideas I’m exploring in practice.  Follow along, get involved and sign up to the newsletter for more!

Combining machine gun alternate picking with soulful, blues-based melodic development, Pat Martino’s distinctive approach to improvisation represents an important milestone in the development of jazz guitar post Wes Montgomery.

Recently happening upon a beautiful performance I was inspired to revisit one of my first Martino albums ‘Live At Yoshi’s‘, taking a more analytical look at the recurring characteristics of Pat’s rhythmic, melodic and harmonic vocabulary.

As detailed in his book ‘Linear Expressions’, Martino’s style poses an attractively tangible solution to jazz guitar improvisation, mapping the fretboard with a CAGED system-like series of minor scale concepts.  However, it’s important to remember that, although his solos do contain what could be called ‘licks’, Martino’s genius lies in an ability to follow both ear and instinct, subtly varying and recombining these as flowing, communicative statements – improvisation in a nutshell!

Video & Transcription

Below is the first in a series of standout lines I’ve selected from Martino’s solo on a heavily reinterpreted version of jazz standard ‘Oleo’, along with a video demonstrating this C minor phrase at full and half tempos.

The transcription includes suggested picking/articulation and a time reference so you can easily listen in the context of the original recording.

Have a go and feel free to contribute below with questions, comments or your own version!