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.

Acknowledgement

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).

Year

Album/Artist

Label

Martínez´s Participation

1954Yolima PérezVergara RecordP
1955Música internacionalSVP
1964Señor 007/Ray BarretoUnited ArtistsP, A
1965El Ray Criollo/Ray BarretoUnited ArtistsP, A, C
1967Latino con SoulUnited ArtistsP, A
1970Feeling/Mongo SantamaríaAtlanticP
1971Ray Rivera/Ray Rivera OrchestraMGMP, A, C
1971Mongo at Montreaux/Mongo SantamaríaAtlantic RecordsP
1972Up From the Roots/Mongo SantamaríaAtlantic RecordsP, A
1973The Other Road/Ray BarretoFania RecordsP, A, C
1973Indestructible/Ray BarretoFania RecordsP, A
1974Justo Betancourt/ Justo BetancourtFania RecordsP
1973Soy hijo de Chango/MeniqueCotiqueA
1974En una nota/Monguito SantamaríaIncaP, A, C
1974Viva Emiliano Zapata/Gato BarbieriABCP
1975Chapter Four/Gato BarbieriABCP
1975Un retrato/Tito RodríguezTR RecordsPR
1975Barreto/Ray BarretoFania RecordsA
1975Barreto Live/Ray BarretoAtlantic RecordsA
1975El jardin del amor/Larry HarlowFania RecordsA
1975Salsa/Larry HarlowFania RecordsA
1975Montara/Bobby HutchersonBlue NoteC
1975Unfinished Masterpiece/Eddie PalmieriMusical Product.A
1976New World/ Joe ChambersFinite RecordsP
1976Cuban RootsMark WeinsteinP
1976Introducing/La Sonora BorinquenTR RecordsPR
1976Caliente/ Gato BarbieriA&M RecordsP, A
1976Ruby Ruby/ Gato BarbieriA&M RecordsP, A
1976Passion & Fire/Gato BarbieriA&M RecordsP
1977La raza latina/Larry HarlowFania RecordsA
1977Eye of the Beholder/Ray BarretoAtlantic RecordsP
1977A Touch of class/Pet Conde RodríguezFania RecordsP
1977De todo un poco/Luo PeresTicoP
1977Romántico y salsero/Raul MarreroSony DiscosP, A
1978Con mucha salsa/Vitin Aviles and FaniaAlegre RecordsA
1978Homenaje a Benny More/Tito PuenteTico RecordsA
1978Tropico/ Gato BarbieriA&M RecordsP, A
1978My Own Image/Luis Perico OrtizTurnstyleP, A, C
1979Euphoria/Gato BarbieriA&M RecordsP
1979Ricanstruction/Ray BarretoFania RecordsA
1979Soy la ley/Pet Conde RodríguezFania RecordsP
1979Gracias/Ray BarretoFania RecordsA
1979Típica 73 Record in Cuba/Típica 73Fania RecordsA
1979NY para el Caribe/Federico CrespoDivemerP,A,C,PR
1979Just Like Magic/Tito PuenteLP Ventures Inc.P
1981Para los amigos/Gato BarbieriDr. JazzP
1981Libre increible/Many OquendoSalsuolA
1981Típica 73…Into the 80´s/TípicaFania RecordsA
1982Tiros bailablesCBSP, A
1983Apasionado/Gato BarbieriPolydorP
1984Calorcito/Conexión LatinaEnjaP, A
1986Hard Hands/Ray MantillaRed RecordsP, A
1986Mambo/La ManiguaMelodieP
1986Un poco locoEnjaA
1986Zaperoco II/ZaperocoMontunoP, A
1988Soundtrack: Married to the MobFILMA
1988L´Opera TriangulaireMessidorA
1989Dark Powers/Ray MantillaRed RecordsP, A
1991Travel Log/Corina BartraBlue spiralP
1992Que se cuiden los soneros/RaulínDMSP
1993Royal T/Tito PuenteCondordA, C
1993Mejor que nunca/Many OquendoMilestoneA
1993Es bolero/Cecilia ZaidSisarP, A
1993Manhattan by Numbers/G. BarbieriFILMC
1994Synergy/Ray MantillaRed RecordsP, A, C
1994Ritual de la salsaDiscos FuentesP, A
1994Tiempo de carnivalAtriz MusicP
1995Privilegio/Edy Martínez OrchestraNuevo MilenioP,A,C,PR
1995Pearls/David SanbornElectraA
1996Madera/Mauricio SmithWenmar RecordsP
1998More and More/Lucas Van MerwijkTam TamP, A, C
1998Apuesto a todo/Gustavo RodríguezFM RecordsP
1998Su majestad el piano/Edy MartínezFM RecordsP,A,PR
1998Live in the Hague/Cubop City Big BandTam TamP, A
2000Edy Martínez Big BandNariño Dept.C,A,PR
2000Rítmico y pianístico/Gerardo RosalesA RecordsP, A
2001La salsa es mi vidaJavaanse JongesA
2002Arsenio/Cubop City Big BandTam TamA
2005New York Salsa/Orquesta UniversalOne SoulP
2006Good VibrationsSavantP
2008Midnight Jazz Affair /Edy MartínezJogal MusicP,A,PR
2010Acción de Gracias/Carlos ZagarraDisc MakerP
2012Chico Alvarez – El Montunero: Country Roots/Urban MastersMafimba RecordsP,A,C
Oscar Montagut
Oscar Montagut
Oscar graduated in journalism and education in Colombia, and completed a postgraduate program in Creative Writing in Canada. He works as an English teacher, translator and freelance writer in Bogotá. Oscar is a music collector, explorer and promoter of World Music and Jazz.

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3 COMMENTS

  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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