It's been a very busy and gratifying Summer and Fall. In July, Jeff Marrs and I headed East to perform with Don Friedman , Steve Laspina and Ratzo Harris for gigs at The Kitano Hotel, Dizzy's club Coca-Cola and a free concert in Dobbs Ferry, NY sponsored by Jazz Forum Arts and my good friend Mark Morganelli. Very special thanks to my good friends Tim and Nikki Armacost for allowing us to housesit, carsit and drumsit! In August, with our CD release gigs at The Douglas Beach House and Yoshi's, Don Friedman joined me and Robb Fisher, Jeff Marrs, Brad Buethe and John Santos for some wonderful concerts. I truly feel this is the best band I've had the honor to lead. Video clips can be seen here. I think that you will find them as memorable as we did and as was the published opinion of reviewer Bill Leikem for AllaboutJazz which can be found here. More great photos by Tom Ehrlich of the concert can be found here. Please check out my new video page which is a collection of all of my YouTube vids.
After the Bay Area gigs Don and I played The Radisson Culver Club presented by In-House Music. with John Heard and Lorca Hart Then we drove up the coast to play at the Hamlet in Cambria where the great vibist Charlie Shoemake and his lovely wife/vocalist Sandi hold court on Sunday afternoons. As always, it was a really swinging gig as the sound in there is warm and intimate and we can hear each other very well. Plus, like the Douglas Beach House, there's a great view of the Pacific Ocean which you will never get on the East Coast!
I participated in "Helen's Song" a benefit for Helen Wray, George Cables longtime lady who is is battling pancreatic cancer. I was fortunate to play with Benny Green, Bruce Forman, Pete Yellin and others. Pictures can be found here.
October was packed with great gigs and residencies. I played with my friend bassist Andy McKee from New York along with drummer Lorca Hart at Affronti in Healdsburg (formerly the Pallette Art Cafe).In the middle of the month, I flew to Denver, where I did a one week residency at Lamont School of Music@Denver University as their artist in residence. We did a live broadcast on KUVO and a concert with both big bands where we performed some of my original music and some of Benny Carter's great charts. It was a real treat for me to work so closely with the great faculty and get to know some of the very talented students. My thanks go out to all the students and my friend and the Jazz Program director Lynn Baker. Photos can be viewed here.
Lynn and I did a great gig at The Blue Sky Collective with some of my favorite Denver area musicians, the great (all of 'em) Jeff Jenkins on piano, Mark Simon on bass and Paul Romaine on drums. A good time was had by all. On Sunday, my old friend Art Lande picked me up and drove me to Boulder where we played that night at Johnny's Cigar Bar which is a cozy little place where Art plays once a month. It was great to reunite with Art who I used to play with back in the '70s in a band with Elliot Zigmund, Steve Swallow, Glen Cronkhite and sometimes Ron McClure and Tom Harrell. The next day we co-conducted a clinic in "The Art of the Duo" at CU@Boulder which was also good fun.
At the end of October Don Friedman came out again from New York for a quick duo tour which started with a well attended clinic/concert at Marin Academy in San Rafael where I often teach. We then hopped in my rented Prius and headed North to Ashland, OR where we were scheduled to do some clinics and a concert on Friday evening at The Old Siskiyou Barn which is a beautifully refurbished venue with an exquisite 9 foot Mason-Hamlin grand piano. We played to a packed house and received two standing ovations. Photos can be seen here. I was able to make a four track recording which I am currently mixing on the new Zoom H4n digital recording device. It was a really fun experience for Don and I as neither one of us had been North in many years. Ed Dunnsavage from The Siskiyou Institute was our gracious host and made all things possible. We are looking forward to returning there in the future. We left for the Bay Area so I could get beck in time for my Grandson Zach's 5th Halloween.
On John Coltrane's birthday September 23, my grandson Zach turned five. Since he's been playing "baby" drums from the age of two, I felt he deserved a "big boy" set and like the proud Grandpa I am, I found him The Ludwig Junior Kit which is a real drum set with real hardware. My friends at D'Addario hooked me up with Evans drumheads and they sound great. Here's a photo of him playing them and a video as well.
Wednesday and Thursday Evenings, Nov 11-Nov 12, 2009 - A Tribute to Bay Area legend, Donald Bailey featuring Charles McPherson, Bruce Forman, Chester Smith, Donald Bailey and more. Yoshi's - Oakland510 Embarcadero West, Jack London Square, Oakland, CA,94607, Phone: 510.238.9200 $20 8PM show Proceeds to go to Donald Bailey after expenses.
Sunday Evening, Decemebr13, 2009 - MEL MARTIN w/ the Capitol City Jazz Project "The Music of Benny Carter" Featuring CJP personnel (left to right): Joe Gilman, piano; Rick Lotter, drums; Henry Robinett, guitar; Kerry Kashiwagi, bass; Mike McMullen, saxophones. American River College Theater, 7pm. 4700 College Oak Drive, Sacramento. Tickets: $15 general/$10 students and seniors, at the door. Free parking in Lot D. For more information, please call 484-8549.
Friday Evening, January 29, 2009 -THE MEL MARTIN TRIO at Jazz in the Backroom @ The Plaza Bistro - 420 First Street East Sonoma, CA 95476 phone 707.996.4466 - Featuring MEL MARTIN - saxophones and flute, Jeff Marrs - drums, bass- TBA
"This is gritty, driving music from a high-octane performer who has been delivering the goods for many years."
Ted Goia - Jazz.com
"Never content to rest on his laurels, Mel brings a wide variety of jazz stylings to this release."
Jeff Krow - Audiophile Audition
"While this CD resists easy classification, it is among the most compelling recordings that Mel Martin has made during his entire career." Ken Dryden - Billboard and All Music Guide
"Martin’s a master of phrasing and a meticulous melody maker."
George Fendel - Jazz Society of Oregon
"Beautiful recording. I put it on right away and felt great!!!" Joe Lovano – 2009
"Where The Warm Winds Blow is a strong captivating collection of Jazz!"
Kenneth Martinez Burgmaier - Jazz Alley TV
"Honestly, this new disc is a winner." Linda Yohn- Program Director WEMU-FM
"This new release by multi-reed player Mel Martin is a sonic delight." Bob Bernotas - Just Jazz Newsletter
Reviews: Jazz.com, Audiophile Audition, Billboard, Jazz Society of Oregon, Just Jazz
It is quite different from anything I've recorded since the early '90s and is reminiscent in ways to my early Listen recordings but with much more of a jazz slant. It was recorded in July when the great jazz pianist Don Friedman came out from New York to do a California tour with my group including guitarist Brad Buethe, bassist Robb Fisher and drummer extrordinaire Jeff Marrs. Besides Don, special guests include John Santos on percussion and Barry Finnerty on guitar. The repertoire is broad and varied from the Latin-tinged Rhythm Man (Do Not Disturb) to the contemporary classical piece with a jazz breakout In The Stars by Stephen Melillo, I Have A Dream by the great Herbie Hancock including my adaptation for woodwinds of his original horn arrangement, the funky, Bitches Brew style of Silly Hawk Walk, a beautiful live version of Blue In Green, George Russell's inventive take on Love For Sale: Ezz-Thetic, The great Benny Carter composition Where The Warm Winds Blow, my personal tribute in 6/8 to my lovely wife Catey: To Catey With Love, and the chestnut Victor Young composition Weaver of Dreams. On many of the pieces, I overdubbed special woodwind arrangements appropriate to the particular composition or just featured the sextet and quartet. I'm very excited about getting it out there and hope that you will enjoy it.
These recordings are available at my web site.
Where the Warm Winds Blow14.99 - Add
"Just Friends" The Mel Martin/Benny Carter Quintet Live @ Yoshi's
"Friends and Mentors"- Mel Martin and Bebop and Beyond
Mel Martin Plays Benny Carter featuring Benny Carter CD-9041 2