Edy Martínez, the Music Architect Behind the Piano

    Edy Martínez and the Cubop City Band, Holland, 2000.
    Edy Martínez and the Cubop City Band, Holland, 2000.
    A Midnight Jazz Affair

    At the insistence of his former stage partners in New York, Edy later returned to the Big Apple to work on new ideas and musical projects. Ray Mantilla and Gato Barbieri were some of those who were waiting for him. It was in this multicultural city, the place that had given him the possibility to create his second great Latin jazz production; the album “Midnight Jazz Affair” came to life in 2008. This work could be considered his best production as a result of years and years of experience in the Latin jazz and salsa scene. He filled the compositions with an array of colors that shined, spread with contrast, and clearly illustrated his profound musical perspective. This album was characterized by a variety of stylistic elements that broadened the landscape and a careful integration of styles that stirred the senses of any Latin jazz listener. Deep and rich harmonic progressions were the perfect ingredients used in this album. The piece “Suite for Piano” is a good example, a powerful song with a subtle layer that invokes motion and emotion. “Guaneña” is a song that clearly reflects an integration of styles. This piece was based on a traditional Colombian song, but with Edy’s hands involved it was transformed into a splendid composition full of flavour and melodic voices. Perhaps his best song on this album is “Celebration” a composition that starts with an expressive piano intro followed by touching wind instrument lines that lead up to an explosion of descarga.

    Edy Martínez on his album “Midnight Jazz Affair.”
    Edy Martínez on his album “Midnight Jazz Affair.”

    In New York Edy is an obligatory reference for dozens of musicians. In 2011 he was called to form an orchestra to play in the Harlem Week Celebrations. He was part of the Harlem Afro-Cuban All Stars with legends like Dave Valentin and Jerry Gonzalez.

    The lines written in this report aim to draw an overall portrait of Edy Martínez’s musical life. The discipline that he developed even from a young age, seems to only strengthen over time, one of his most notable qualities. What is absolutely remarkable about him is his passion for music. His more than 50 years of career playing, arranging, composing, directing, and producing, most of the time staying behind the music and the acclaimed artists, is a testament to Edy as one of the best examples of humbleness, dedication, talent, and love for music. For many reasons, this article could have omitted other albums and a few other artists with whom he worked, but beyond this what I will not omit is the uncanny connection between the attitude Mr. Martínez had when he first settled in Miami 50 years ago and the same genuine attitude he had when I met him last year, in Jazz al Parque 2011. I met a musician still full of wishes to learn everything that he could from other musicians, trying to share all that he could with the piano – it seemed to be a message to all of us, that music is a love in action. At present, while you read this report it is possible that in his apartment, in New Jersey, NY, Edy is studying some form of classical, jazz or Latin music, perhaps dreaming about coming back to his beautiful country, Colombia, where it all began.


    Special gratitude to the maestro Edy Martínez for his great patience, to Vilma Rincón for her help providing all the information and graphical material available. All photographs courtesy of Edy Martinez.

    Edy Martínez´s Discography

    Abbreviations: Pianist (P), Arranger (A), Composer (C), Producer (PR).




    Martínez´s Participation

    1954 Yolima Pérez Vergara Record P
    1955 Música internacional SV P
    1964 Señor 007/Ray Barreto United Artists P, A
    1965 El Ray Criollo/Ray Barreto United Artists P, A, C
    1967 Latino con Soul United Artists P, A
    1970 Feeling/Mongo Santamaría Atlantic P
    1971 Ray Rivera/Ray Rivera Orchestra MGM P, A, C
    1971 Mongo at Montreaux/Mongo Santamaría Atlantic Records P
    1972 Up From the Roots/Mongo Santamaría Atlantic Records P, A
    1973 The Other Road/Ray Barreto Fania Records P, A, C
    1973 Indestructible/Ray Barreto Fania Records P, A
    1974 Justo Betancourt/ Justo Betancourt Fania Records P
    1973 Soy hijo de Chango/Menique Cotique A
    1974 En una nota/Monguito Santamaría Inca P, A, C
    1974 Viva Emiliano Zapata/Gato Barbieri ABC P
    1975 Chapter Four/Gato Barbieri ABC P
    1975 Un retrato/Tito Rodríguez TR Records PR
    1975 Barreto/Ray Barreto Fania Records A
    1975 Barreto Live/Ray Barreto Atlantic Records A
    1975 El jardin del amor/Larry Harlow Fania Records A
    1975 Salsa/Larry Harlow Fania Records A
    1975 Montara/Bobby Hutcherson Blue Note C
    1975 Unfinished Masterpiece/Eddie Palmieri Musical Product. A
    1976 New World/ Joe Chambers Finite Records P
    1976 Cuban Roots Mark Weinstein P
    1976 Introducing/La Sonora Borinquen TR Records PR
    1976 Caliente/ Gato Barbieri A&M Records P, A
    1976 Ruby Ruby/ Gato Barbieri A&M Records P, A
    1976 Passion & Fire/Gato Barbieri A&M Records P
    1977 La raza latina/Larry Harlow Fania Records A
    1977 Eye of the Beholder/Ray Barreto Atlantic Records P
    1977 A Touch of class/Pet Conde Rodríguez Fania Records P
    1977 De todo un poco/Luo Peres Tico P
    1977 Romántico y salsero/Raul Marrero Sony Discos P, A
    1978 Con mucha salsa/Vitin Aviles and Fania Alegre Records A
    1978 Homenaje a Benny More/Tito Puente Tico Records A
    1978 Tropico/ Gato Barbieri A&M Records P, A
    1978 My Own Image/Luis Perico Ortiz Turnstyle P, A, C
    1979 Euphoria/Gato Barbieri A&M Records P
    1979 Ricanstruction/Ray Barreto Fania Records A
    1979 Soy la ley/Pet Conde Rodríguez Fania Records P
    1979 Gracias/Ray Barreto Fania Records A
    1979 Típica 73 Record in Cuba/Típica 73 Fania Records A
    1979 NY para el Caribe/Federico Crespo Divemer P,A,C,PR
    1979 Just Like Magic/Tito Puente LP Ventures Inc. P
    1981 Para los amigos/Gato Barbieri Dr. Jazz P
    1981 Libre increible/Many Oquendo Salsuol A
    1981 Típica 73…Into the 80´s/Típica Fania Records A
    1982 Tiros bailables CBS P, A
    1983 Apasionado/Gato Barbieri Polydor P
    1984 Calorcito/Conexión Latina Enja P, A
    1986 Hard Hands/Ray Mantilla Red Records P, A
    1986 Mambo/La Manigua Melodie P
    1986 Un poco loco Enja A
    1986 Zaperoco II/Zaperoco Montuno P, A
    1988 Soundtrack: Married to the Mob FILM A
    1988 L´Opera Triangulaire Messidor A
    1989 Dark Powers/Ray Mantilla Red Records P, A
    1991 Travel Log/Corina Bartra Blue spiral P
    1992 Que se cuiden los soneros/Raulín DMS P
    1993 Royal T/Tito Puente Condord A, C
    1993 Mejor que nunca/Many Oquendo Milestone A
    1993 Es bolero/Cecilia Zaid Sisar P, A
    1993 Manhattan by Numbers/G. Barbieri FILM C
    1994 Synergy/Ray Mantilla Red Records P, A, C
    1994 Ritual de la salsa Discos Fuentes P, A
    1994 Tiempo de carnival Atriz Music P
    1995 Privilegio/Edy Martínez Orchestra Nuevo Milenio P,A,C,PR
    1995 Pearls/David Sanborn Electra A
    1996 Madera/Mauricio Smith Wenmar Records P
    1998 More and More/Lucas Van Merwijk Tam Tam P, A, C
    1998 Apuesto a todo/Gustavo Rodríguez FM Records P
    1998 Su majestad el piano/Edy Martínez FM Records P,A,PR
    1998 Live in the Hague/Cubop City Big Band Tam Tam P, A
    2000 Edy Martínez Big Band Nariño Dept. C,A,PR
    2000 Rítmico y pianístico/Gerardo Rosales A Records P, A
    2001 La salsa es mi vida Javaanse Jonges A
    2002 Arsenio/Cubop City Big Band Tam Tam A
    2005 New York Salsa/Orquesta Universal One Soul P
    2006 Good Vibrations Savant P
    2008 Midnight Jazz Affair /Edy Martínez Jogal Music P,A,PR
    2010 Acción de Gracias/Carlos Zagarra Disc Maker P
    2012 Chico Alvarez – El Montunero: Country Roots/Urban Masters Mafimba Records P,A,C


    1. Didn’t Edy Martinez have a daughter called Estellita with a lady called Estella? I remember babysitting that little girl when they lived in the Bronx off The Grand Concourse. Crazy times. I also met Artie Webb at their apartment.

    2. Hi Oscar

      Great piece!

      My name is Gary Peters, author of the Philosophy of Improvisation (Chicago University Press, 2009) and just finishing another book for Chicago U.P. on improvisation. It contains a strange ‘memoir’ of the San Sebastian Jazz festival 1980 where Edy played with Gato. I was playing too in another band. I wondered if you had a contact email for Edy? I need to ask him a couple of questions relating to that night.


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