Larry Pattis' Biography
Larry Pattis was born in Chicago and raised in the fine northern suburb of Wilmette.
Despite playing trumpet and clarinet in grammar school, Pattis' main exposure to music was in listening to his father sing (and singing along) during family car rides (and at every other family gathering), and in listening to such diverse music from Bach & Mozart, to Allan Sherman, Benny Goodman, and more on the hi-fi at his grandparent's apartment on the near-north side of Chicago. It wasn't until his senior year of high school (1972-73) that he chanced upon fingerstyle guitar music while accompanying his sister to her weekly group-guitar lessons.
"I was immediately smitten with the guitar, and in wanting to immerse myself in the world of instrumental guitar music … but I was spending all of my hours of the week outside of school training in gymnastics," as Pattis delves into this story, "but I did start taking music lessons (with Michael Kovitz … still playing, still teaching & still writing), and it was that year that I also discovered the greater folk music scene that had re-emerged (or never died!) in the Chicago area at that time. Clubs like Amazing Grace and The Earl of Old Town were my regular hangouts. I was deeply moved by the singer-songwriters, and clearly entranced with the instrumental side of the music."
For more then a decade after college, Larry continued to divide his time between gymnastics, teaching in private clubs and at the collegiate level, and his growing prowess on the guitar. He played music in a semi-professional capacity, working small coffeehouses and clubs, and also began an interest in Sports Medicine, which led to graduate school studies in Exercise Physiology, and eventually to medical school!
"At that point in my life," he relates, "I was very much torn between medicine and music … and although I had enrolled in medical school (ahem, at the ripe old age of 35), it was during that year I knew that I had to really choose … and, well, the guitar won!"
With a smattering of classical training, and a lot of folk-guitar music under his belt, Larry launched into three careers simultaneously … that of solo performer, guitar shop owner, and concert-producer. While developing his original repertoire during these years, Pattis gained knowledge of the retail music industry and also developed life-long friendships and professional insights with many of the top touring guitarists and singer-songwriters our country has to offer.
Finally, in 1997 Larry's first CD "Random Chance" appeared, to no small appreciation of the acoustic guitar crowd, and touring commenced. It was during that same year that Larry persuaded his friend and mentor Pierre Bensusan to consider a Residential Seminar program, and Larry was able to work with Pierre for an extended period of time in France.
Larry's work with Bensusan indeed proved to be the foundation and inspiration for his coming into his own as a composer, as well as finding his full voice on the guitar as a mature musician in his own right. A few years later Larry's "Hands of Time" CD won the hearts of radio programmers and the listening public, garnering him a #1 on-the-charts ranking during early 2003. This kind of recognition, and of course the music itself, propelled Larry to more touring, a one-hour solo concert at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC, and to concerts at some of the great folk clubs and concert venues across the United States.
During these years Larry also developed a professional relationship and close friendship with El McMeen, master of Celtic, Pop, R&B, and spiritual fingerstyle guitar. For about 5 years they toured together often, on the East Coast, in the Midwest, and in the Western mountain states, as "Guitar Odyssey: Celtic to Contemporary." Pattis says of their friendship, "We have an unbreakable bond, McMeen and I … El has been my best friend and confidante … my debt to him cannot be repaid in this lifetime."
The summer of 2008 found Larry playing at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, and he also completed his long-awaited 3rd album of mostly original music, "What Tomorrow Brings." Twelve original pieces and two covers make up this exquisite display of fingerstyle guitar artistry. Pattis' most ambitious work to date, these most recent compositions and arrangements are intensely personal, yet they are like an open book, with each piece a complete and accessible chapter or story unto itself.
You can hear Larry's music from time to time on NPR's "Morning Edition," find it available for purchase in the digital realm on iTunes, and you may even catch a glimpse or two of him on YouTube. Rumor has it that Larry even has a MySpace page, but we're not going to divulge the exact URL.
In listening to his superb recordings, or experiencing the magic of a live concert, Pattis succeeds in merging styles of instrumental guitar music not normally found in the same room together. Both Folk and Classical styles seem to be fully represented within Larry's playing and compositions. While devoted to the emotive side of the instrument, Larry demonstrates considerable technical prowess. His musical vision is a blending of beauty with technique, to bring forth the many voices that the steel string guitar can manifest. Like that of classical guitar masters, Pattis' music is filled with strong melodic content and rich harmonic counterpoint, supported by moving, evocative rhythms.
"Fingerstyle Guitar Magazine has said of Larry Pattis' first CD, 'Random Chance' has us standing up and taking notes. Pattis is a gifted writer and acoustic guitarist. The mostly original works range from exquisite ballads that bring to mind Ed Gerhard and El McMeen, to up-tempo compositions that roll from his fingers with hints of early Pierre Bensusan."
Pattis allows the experiences of life (both large and small) to influence his writing. His pieces are inspired by his relationships to places and friends, but also to the strong emotions we all have in common.
Larry Pattis' second CD "Hands of Time," on the Guitar Odyssey label, fully demonstrates his unique combination of talents as composer, arranger, and master of the steel-string guitar. His heartfelt folk-oriented lyrical approach to the guitar, along with his classically inspired attention to tone, dynamics and subtle nuance, provides for a CD that is filled with track after track of music that demands the listener's attention. The compositions on "Hands of Time" are strong and confident; the guitar playing is rich with beautiful textures. Bill Frost of the Salt Lake City Weekly has said, "… weaving clear-sky contempo-folk instrumentals that speak lyrical volumes without even the slightest need for intruding vocals or extraneous players."
Oh yes, along the way Larry managed to find the love of his life (Karla), and they have shared many years, many laughs, and some decidedly serious tears as parents and other beloved family members have passed on. They are now living in the countryside near Eugene, Oregon.