Pat Martino, a jazz guitarist who came to fame through perseverance and determination, will help get the Savannah Music Festival off to a fast start with his performance.

Martino had many influences growing up, such as Gene Ludwig and Billy James, but looks to his dad as the primary person who shaped his music.

In an interview with Diane Dayton at Berks Jazz Fest in 2008, Martino reminisced about his father’s influence, saying, “My father wanted to be a guitarist and he was able to experience that through me."


DownBeat Magazine recognized Martino as Guitar Player of the Year in 2004 and he has received multiple Grammy nominations in the jazz category throughout his career.

Known to listen and play music in an academic sense, Martino looks at music as functions in terms of rhythm, flow and more.

A brain aneurysm in 1980 erased almost all of the memories Martino had of his personal life and music. He defied all odds and relearned how to play music through rigorous patience and training.

Martino said in Dayton’s interview that relearning everything he once knew was a “wonderful experience” and described how he refined his musical perspective in the process.

Now at age 73, Martino has been incorporating some different instruments into his blues, such as an organ player and a saxophonist.

After releasing work on a variety of major labels like Warner Brothers and Blue Note Records, Martino makes his Savannah Music Festival debut at 12:30 p.m. March 29 at the Charles H. Morris Center.