It's been the best of times and the worst of times with the passing of my
good friend Smith Dobson in a tragic automobile accident. We have also lost
Don Haas and Billy Higgins as well as Milt Hinton, J.J. Johnson, John Lewis
and Buddy Tate. They will all be missed.
My tour in November, 2000 went very well with a week's worth of solid gigs
with my partners in crime Hal Galper on piano, Bob Maize on bass, Harold Jones
or Mike Clark on drums. Special guest for two gigs was baritone saxophone
great Nick Brignola. Photos and a tour diary can be viewed at http://www.melmartin.com/html_pages/Nov_Tour.html.
In December, I took a real vacation (highly unusual) with my wife Catey and
my daughter Sara on the unbelievably beautiful Island of Maui in the great
state of Hawaii. There was even a little jazz club there. But mostly it was
about snorkeling, whale watching and 85 degree weather in December. A return
visit is planned for 2001.
I was in New York City in January for the International Association of Jazz
Educators conference. While I was there; I did a special appearance at Birdland
with the Lew Anderson Big Band. I also was at the Leblanc booth for two days
demonstrating the Yanagisawa line of saxophones. Photos of me and friends
and associates can be seen at http://www.melmartin.com/html_pages/IAJE2001.html
I can also be seen performing at Birdland as well as Joe Lovano's Nonet which
was clearly the best music I've heard in New York in a long time. I stayed
the whole evening and hung at the bar with my good friend Terri Hinte the
publicist from Fantasy. The crowd was really grooving to the music as only
they can in the Apple and Joe and friends were on the case.
February was pretty quiet gig-wise but between private teaching, putting
together a new Advanced Jazz Workshop, tweaking my web site and working on
my house I had plenty to do. I got down to Yoshi's and sat in with the Mingus
Big Band which I always have fun playing with. I also got down to Pearl's
to sit in with New York tenor man Tim Armacost who was doing a little touring
Speaking of my web site, I have made a number of significant changes and
additions. The first is that all of the recordings that I have rights to can
now be purchased via secure credit card at http://www.melmartin.com/html_pages/releases.html
Man¯ of you have received an e-mail detailing the recordings that are
available but suffice it to say that they are far more than vanity recordings.
They contain some of the greatest jazz musicians and jazz compositions of
all time and are available exclusively on line at my site. Many of these were
funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and are true cultural
documents. Many of the recorded compositions can be downloaded as sheet music
as well. I have been going through my extensive tape archives and digitally
remastering a number of things so stay tuned for more releases.
I have added a number of rare RealAudio streaming audio interviews on my
Interviews page at http://www.melmartin.com/html_pages/interviews.html. RealAudio8
has become very high quality and I have mastered and edited inteviews by Charlie
Parker (Blindfold test), my personal interviews with Wayne Shorter and Max
Roach, the infamous Lester Young interview where he was drinking more as the
interview proceeded, a brief one with Bud Powell and a long one with Coleman
Hawkins. These are in addition to the ones already there such as Paul Desmond
interviewing Bird, Ralph J. Gleason interviewing Sonny Rollins and Augie Bloom
interviewing John Coltrane. I will be adding a lengthy interview by Lucky
Thompson soon. There are numerous other print interviews and articles I've
written as well. Now if I could only find that Getz tape! It is a fabulous
experience to hear these greats speaking and I am happy to be able to share.
I have moved the site to Earthlink/Mindspring and access is great as is their
speed and reliability. I am also using Macromedia's Dreamweaver 4 software
to edit the site and it is a great program which allows me to tweak the html
code quite easily. I have also tried to organize the site and improve the
ability to navigate around. Oh, I'm sorry. Is that too geeky? Well.....excuuuuuse
me!. It all works real good!
The Bebop and Beyond Spring Advanced Jazz Workshop is going well with an
enthusiastic enrollment including Byron Colborn on bari saxophone, Anne Stafford
on tenor saxophone, Neil Kantor on trumpet, Gina Trenalone on piano, Zeena
Quinn on vocals, Stuart Lehman Brown on bass and Miles Tune and Jonathin Selin
on drums. We will be recording a CD of the Monk and Mingus compositions we
have been working on. I will send out notices when for the starting date of
the Summer Workshop soon. Because Bebop and Beyond is a 501 (c)3 corporation,
the cost of the workshop is fully tax deductible.
I recently played at the infamous no name bar in Sausalito and we had a great
turnout and a great band w/ Randy Vincent on guitar, Larry Hancock on drums
and newcomer Daniel Fusco on bass. We will be back there in June. This Sunday
May 13, Harold Jones and I will be starting up our regular Sunday series at
the San Geronimo Golf Course. I will be appearing as guest soloist with the
UC@Davis Big Band on May 23rd. I am very excited to have been asked to perform
at the Berkshire Jazz Festival in August and plan on spending some time in
New York in September.
It was early September when I had returned from a gig on the East Coast and
I was just getting ready to do a Summer Newsletter. We all know now what happened
on September 11, 2001. Personally, I watched it live on television and thought
Godzilla was going to crawl out from behind the World Trade Center. I had
almost decided to stay in NYC for a couple of weeks but had more pressing
plans at home so I returned to California. Of course, it was ludicrous to
be thinking blatant self promotion or even just being personally "newsy"
so here is my summary of Summer, Fall, Winter and future activities.
Let me start with the present then go back to this Summer's activities. First
off, I am extremely happy to announce the impending release of the new Bebop
and Beyond recording Friends and Mentors - Bebop and Beyond Plays the Music
of Mel Martin. New in release but recorded in two sessions, one in November,
1999 and the other in June, 2000 in Brooklyn. This is the band that first
appeared at the IAJE four years ago. Bobby Watson on alto, Jack Walrath on
trumpet and flugelhorn, George Cables or Mike Longo on piano, Ray Drummond
on bass and Winard Harper or Billy Hart on drums. I was able to lease it to
the Quixotic Label, a division of Cadence Jazz and North Country Distributors.
They have an excellent reputation and have been in business for over 25 years.
The recording will be distributed internationally by them and, of course,
be available at their web site http://www.cadencebuilding.com/, my web site
http://www.melmartin.com and certainly all the other usual suspects. I have
never done an entire recording of my own compositions and these guys truly
rose to the occasion. Dr. Herb Wong wrote the liner notes and it represents
a new way of doing projects with complete control from start to finish via
the recording standard of the ADAT format. Record in Brooklyn and bring the
tapes home to mix, edit and master. Needless to say but I'll say it anyway,
I am VERY excited about this project. Release is tentatively scheduled for
late March or early April. A CD release event is scheduled on Tuesday, May
21, 2002 at Yoshi's Nitespot in Oakland. Both Jack Walrath and Bobby Watson
will be with me as well as Matthew Clark on piano, Omar Clay on drums and
bass TBA. I will send out official notices when the CD is actually available.
As I am writing this, Catey and I are about to depart for Long Beach for the
IAJE conference (January 10-13) at the Long Beach Convention Center. As at
previous conferences, I can be found at the Leblanc Corporation booth in the
display section as well as seen bouncing around the scene. At the end of November,
I took delivery of a new bronze Yanagisawa 992 tenor saxophone which I will
have at the booth. I would love some tenor players to come by and try it.
It is a very unique horn with a dark tambre that picks up where the original
Mark VI left off. As with all Yanagisawa saxophones, it is of very high quality
and consistency. Of course, there will also be many other models for demonstration
and I will be happy to answer questions about them. Please stop by. On Saturday
night, January 12, 2002 I will be presented in a special showcase with the
Bill Cunliffe trio at midnight the Westin-Long Beach in the Ocean Ballroom.
Bill Cunliffe is the fine pianist with the Clayton/Hamilton Band with whom
I played at the Benny Carter 90th birthday celebration at the Hollywood Bowl
a few years back. It should be a really swinging set and a great capper to
the convention. I will also be doing a number performances with the Jon Mayer
trio with Roy McCurdy and Bob Maize.
The following week we will move down to Anaheim for the NAMM show which is
presented by the National Association of Music Merchants. It is the largest
trade show in existence and a wonder to behold. Again, I will be at the Leblanc
booth which is usually right at the front of the musical instrument room.
I have received word that Leblanc will be presenting me with a new Leblanc
clarinet of my choice which is a huge thrill for me. I have always played
Leblanc clarinets and clarinet was my first instrument. So this like coming
full circle. In the last few years, I have been playing more clarinet, so
this is a real inspiration for me to keep working on that most difficult,
Last summer I played a regular Sunday afternoon gig with the Harold Jones
All Stars at the San Geronimo Valley Golf Course. It is a big room and a great
hang for valley residents. Many musicians would come by to sit in so it was
always very loose. This was the second year and it will start up again in
April or May. I also began playing periodically with my own groups at the
no name bar in Sausalito, Downtown in Oakland, Felix and Louie's in Healdsburg
and Pairs in Napa. These gigs are always fun and a great way to play a lot
and develop some music. Usually the band consisted of Randy Vincent or Calvin
Keys on guitar, Bob Steele or Daniel Fusco on bass and Larry Hancock or Omar
Clay on drums. I am still performing at these venues and they are also listed
below. "Think globally and act locally."
In July, we lost Joe Henderson who had been ill for quite sometime. Joe was
a good friend and personal inspiration. I had the pleasure of playing in his
big band and he also recorded with Bebop and Beyond on our Thelonious Monk
recording. Orrin Keepnews wanted to put together a tribute to him at Yoshi's
and we were able to do it in a weeks time from Joe's passing. Bobby Huthcherson,
Rufus Reid, Renee Rosnes, Calvin Keys, Dave Ellis, Bishop Norman Williams,
me and others performed. There were many anecdotes about Joe whose legend
was large. The most moving came from his caregiver who told of him being given
his horn after his stroke and struggling to get a few notes out of it only
to realize that he could never play again. I was able to videotape much of
the proceedings and was honored to receive a request that Bobby Huthcherson's
humorous remembrances be presented at the New York Memorial in October. I
was also able to send copies to his family. Joe will be missed.
In early August, I performed in Lodi, CA as guest soloist with various student
and professional ensembles. It was presented by Gottschalk Music and was the
culmination of their Summer jazz program. Appearing with the pro big band
was a lovely singer named Michelle Richardson. Besides being an excellent
vocalist, I was really humbled to meet her father. He is the legendary bassist
Rodney Richardson who played and recorded with the Count Basie Band, Lester
Young, Charlie Parker, Art Tatum, Ben Webster and many others. After the performance,
we all went out to dinner and I had a ball asking him many questions about
all of these greats. He seemed to be enjoying reminiscing about his times
with those bands.
In mid - August, I record with Gottlieb Guntern who runs the Creando International
Foundation for Creativity and Leadership in Switzerland. He presents some
of the greatest creative minds in the world including many well known jazz
musicians. Their web site is http://www.creando.com The date was put together
by Ora Harris
and featured me, Calvin Keys, Glen Pierson, Jeff Chambers and Dave Rokeach.
In late August I went east to play at the first annual Berkshire Jazz Festival
with Bebop and Beyond. Mark Morganelli, who was the person responsible for
bringing us to Birdland in the '90's asked us to perform. I had never been
to that part of the country and was taken with it's beauty and history. Here
are the notes of my personal journal which I would like to share with you.
Berkshire Jazz Fest
I arrived at the Hartford airport at 11Pm on the 23rd of August. This gave
me an opportunity to catch up on some much needed rest as I had been working
almost non-stop most of the month of august. I stayed over in Enfield one
more night and did a little practicing and found some reeds and generally
was able to prepare for the festival. I contacted a friend of Gary Drezja
of Leblanc who happens to be the head chef at a prominent country club a few
miles away. He is also a big jazz fan. He invited me up for a swim and lunch
the next day on my way to Great Barrington, MA. The pool was full size and
I did some laps and then was treated to a fine lunch of fresh Mahi-Mahi and
vegetables. We visited a bit and then I made my way over the lush, gorgeous,
rolling hills of highway 57 in Massachusetts. There were many typical New
England homes, often built in the early 1800's. This was an area of New England
I had never seen before so it was quite a treat.
I arrived in Great Barrington in the late afternoon and checked into my motel.
GB is a quaint resort town whose other chief activity seems to revolve around
the many beautiful churches present on its main street. I got together with
drummer Sylvia Cuenca to go over our respective sets. Later that evening festival
producer Mark Morganelli called and invited me over to Egremont for dinner
and a jam session with one of the house rhythm sections that would be at the
festival. Mark was holding court with his wife Ellen and their kids and a
few friends. As soon as we finished eating Mark said the magic words "let's
play." The rhythm section of guitarist Richie Hart, bassist Rick Pettrone
and drummer Joe Corsello had begun their second set. I joined in while Mark
went out to his car to get his trumpet and flugelhorn. The session started
to heat up as we all started to become musically acquainted. After a tune
or so in walked Roy Hargrove and some of his band. Roy got up with us and
played Mark's flugelhorn while Larry Willis went to the bar. As the set progressed
we opened up the piano and Larry finally joined us for a blues. He's a great
player that I had admired for a long time but never got to play with so it
was a great experience and a true jazz jam. Roy's new saxophonist Bruce Williams
came up to me and said he had been to my web site and was a Yanagisawa player.
We hung and got totally into what we saxophonists always do... talk about
horns, mouthpieces and reeds as if nothing else existed.
The next day the festival got under way with the Hargrove group which I made
a point of catching. They sounded really good and it was fun to see Willie
Jones III and Gerald Canon again. I snapped some photos and then checked out
the venues where I would be performing. Festivals are always a great hang
and someplace you can see old friends and colleagues. I ran into Talib Kibwe
who was there with Randy Weston whom I also got to hang with a bit. While
at the hospitality suite, there was food and refreshments and in walked Jacked
Walrath and his lovely wife Yota who was to perform with me in Bebop and Beyond.
We were scheduled to do a workshop at 4 but turned it into an open rehearsal
which the audience seemed to enjoy. When I got to the hall, guitarist Vic
Juris informed me that he had left his apartment in Manhattan before I sent
the faxes of my music so he was the only one who hadn't had a chance to see
the music. So the open rehearsal really made a difference and Vic was very
open and willing to try the entirely new material. On bass was my original
bassist from Listen Dave Dunaway which was yet another treat for me as we
hadn't played in a long time. Dave had only begun playing upright bass when
we worked together previously but was a unique and accomplished electric player.
I soon found that he had mastered the upright and was now at the same level
of expression that he had developed on electric. I also soon realized that
Vic Juris is a major musical talent. I had heard him on recordings and live
with Dave Liebman's band but you never know what a musician's made of until
you play with them.
We moved to the upper lodge for our 5PM performance. There was a nice turnout
and The band played very well. Jack Walrath and I have a long time rapport
that I can always count on and Sylvia and Dave did a splendid job playing
our (mostly) original material. But the big treat was Vic Juris who nailed
everything, played great solos and turned out to be a great accompanist. In
fact, I would rate him on a par with people like Mulgrew Miller, George Cables
and Herbie Hancock who all have an ability to help the soloist and make any
note choice work. So my impression was that we played well as a group. However,
we got some excellent feedback from many who heard us that our set was the
highlight for them of what had gone on that day. This is always welcome and
doesn't always happen. So I felt even better. After our set the rhythm section
stayed on to play the first of the festival jam sessions. I hung for a while
and played one tune. But when the saxophone count got up to five I bailed.
I had really given it up. Roy Hargrove was hanging around and asked me if
I was going over to the same place we had played the night before. I replied
that I didn't think so. My day was over.
The next day I checked out of the motel as I would have to drive back to Enfield
after the festival ended and catch a very early flight home the next morning.
I walked around Great Barrington for about an hour taking photos of the very
interesting scenery and architecture. I went up to the lodge where I was to
perform with Sylvia Quenca's band and heard Vic Juris and his wife Kate Baker
performing with Dave and Sylvia. They sounded great doing some Brazilian jazz.
I continue to be impressed with Vic's ability to fit into all kinds of musical
situations. I went down to the hospitality suite and many members of the Duke
Ellington band arrived. I knew a couple of the guys and met a few more. Then
I went back up to play. Sylvia's set went well with pianist Allan Simon and
Dave Dunaway. I wished that we had rehearsed but, overall, it felt good. Then
I went back down to the clinic hall and joined Richie Hart and the guys for
a saxophone clinic. We played a couple of tunes and I talked a bit. After
that, I went to the booths, took care of "Count de Money" and left
for Enfield. I got back before dark and got to sleep at a reasonable hour.
I had to get up at an unreasonable hour of 4am to catch a 7AM flight which
I did in plenty of time. The trip was a blast. I got to play some great music,
make some new friends and renew my understanding that I fit very well indeed,
with my East Coast brothers and sisters.
In September, I played at the Fairfax Jazz festival with my quartet and special
guest saxophonist Noel Jewkes. I have known Noel since my early days in Sacramento
and also San Francisco. We are both known as jazz soloists and often play
with many of the same folks but have never done an "official" gig
together. We were able to rehearse and presented a concert of his and my original
compositions. We are both Geminis and definitely possess similar mind sets.
The concert was very well received and was great fun. I hope we can do it
again in the future. We both also performed with the Harold Jones Big Band
featuring special guest Jon Hendricks which was great until the sun went down
and there was no more light to read the music.
In November I did a clinic at the College of San Mateo Jazz Festival. One
of my sponsors, Best Music, Co. Of Oakland was able to put up a booth and
many of the students were invited to try out Yanagisawa saxophones and Leblanc
clarinets. A 50 minute clinic is tough to do but I was able to demonstrate
the Lee Konitz "ten step" method in learning to improvise from the
melody which many attending had never heard of. It is available at my web
site at http://www.melmartin.com/html_pages/Interviews/konitz.html.
The year ended on an upbeat note with a nice recording date with a singer
named Bettina Devin which featured horn players Max Perkoff, Charles McNeil,
Fred Berry and John Worley as well as drummer Dave Rokeach and guitarist Brad
Buethe. Then it was off to our second Winter vacation in Maui accompanied
by my wife Catey, our daughter Sara and her partner Adam Breindel. Maui is
a fabulous place to go in the Winter. I loved the daily swimming, sight seeing
and the whale watching trip. Always a highlight is the original show called
Ulalena which, unfortunately, can never tour as the theater is so high tech
that is cannot be duplicated. It presents a very artful presentation of the
history of the islands with a smokin' band heavy on percussion.
On the last day of the year, I was notified by the California Arts Council
that Bebop and Beyond is to be funded for jazz workshop presentation to the
Novato middle and high schools for the coming year. This is a very significant
step for us. We have been presenting our Advanced Jazz Workshop periodically
at my studio in Novato but now we will be able to take it directly to the
Visionaries and Outcasts by Michael Brenson - The NEA, Congress, and the Place
of the Visual Artist in America. Equally applicable to the music program,
it is a very interesting history of the National Endowment for the Arts. It
is about how the NEA started out started during the Kennedy years as a haven
for the individual artist with the fellowships being the most important award
and ended up being a haven for major arts organizations with the fellowships
being shamefully shunted aside in the restructuring of 1994.
The Betrayal of America by Vincent Bugliosi - How the Supreme Court Undermined
the Constitution and Chose Our President. Bugliosi's scathing indictment of
the last presidential selection expanded from his essay in the Nation magazine.
Healing Back Pain by John E. Sarno, M.D. - The Mind-Body Connection - A fascinating
and logical appraisal of a national malady. Check it out it really works.
I will be adding photos from some of the above mentioned events and the upcoming
ones as well. All it takes is time which, it seems, I never have enough of.
Also, please check out my articles and reviews in JazzImprov, a great and
Here is my performance schedule. Please check in periodically at my events
Tuesday Evening, May 21, 2002 - MEL MARTIN AND BEBOP AND BEYOND CD Release
Party "FRIENDS AND MENTORS" at YOSHI'S NITESPOT 8 11PM 510 Embarcadero
West Oakland, CA 94607 (510) 238-9200
w/ Bobby Watson, Jack
Walrath, Matthew Clark,, others TBA