Conversation with Amanda Martínez

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As part of the Royal Conservatory 2012-2013 Season, World Music Series, World Music, Pop, Royal Conservatory Presents: Amanda Martínez with Special Guest Javier Limón at Koerner Hall

Amanda Martinez collaborates with multiple Grammy Award-winning Spanish producer Javier Limón in this concert where you’ll hear preview of the lush vocals, flamenco rhythms, and Afro-Cuban beats in Amanda’s upcoming CD, Mañana. This is the sound of “an enchantress.” (Star TV) CBC says, “she captures the raw emotion of Latin music, making us sit up and listen,” and Metro describes Martinez’s music as “reminiscent of the Latin songstress of days of old… strong and defiant while soft and vulnerable.” Garvia Bailey, host of Big City, Small World on CBC Radio One 99.1 FM, will host the concert with Mervon Mehta, Executive Director of Performing Arts at The Royal Conservatory.

Interview by Danilo Navas

LJN: Hi Amanda, congratulations on your upcoming show at Koerner Hall, my first question would be: How did you end up collaborating with Spanish singer/songwriter/record producer Javier Limón?

AM: It was actually through Koerner Hall almost, because… I’ve been a big fan of Javier’s music and of the music he has produced, and when Buika came to Koerner Hall a couple of years ago I was talking to her piano player, Iván Melón Lewis; he is a good friend of Alexander Brown, who plays trumpet in my band, so, we were talking for a while and I was telling him how much I would love to work with Javier and he ended up putting me in touch with Javier and then I… well not with Javier directly but with his management and then I explained them the kind of concept of the album I wanted to work with him and they asked me the send down my music for Javier to hear. I didn’t hear from him for a little bit but when I did he said he’d been really busy but that he’d love to work with me, so, at the time he was just moving to Boston (at the Berklee College of Music’s Mediterranean Music Institute, where he serves as Artistic Director). I flew down to meet him in person and we talked and we really hit it off and we made plans to work together, but then I got pregnant with my twins, so, I had to postpone everything. Eventually we got in touch again and we’re finally making it happen.

LJN: Are you already recording?

AM: Yeah! we already started recording…

LJN: Here in Toronto?

AM: Yes, in Toronto. We’re recording at Noble Street Studios, a beautiful recording studio located around the Queen and Dufferin area in Toronto.

LJN: Are you recording with the same band? Any new additions?

AM: Well, there’s someone who’s not really new… He’s new to my recording but he has been playing with me for the last few years and doing some touring with me. I’m talking about Cuban tres player Pablosky Rosales. He was going to be kind of like a guest on the album and then Javier heard him and he was very impressed with him. He thought he was a very important component of the band’s sound, so, he ended up being in most of the songs. I think in all of them actually.

LJN: Can you tell us a little bit about the music that’s gonna be on your new CD Mañana?

AM: Yeah! We’re gonna be performing a lot of the new material from the CD at the show at Koerner Hall. We’ve been rehearsing these days and Javier is also playing (guitar) along with Kevin Laliberté. Javier is making use of voices in the new arrangements. A lot of the guys in the band have great voices, so, we’re taking advantage of that. We’re including some of my own compositions, which I’ve been writing during the recent years, and some of them are collaborations that I’ve worked on. One of them is a song that my cousin, Daniel Martínez from Mexico wrote. He’s always been an amazing composer. He wrote the lyrics and I wrote the music. It’s really cool because growing up, whenever I went down to Mexico, during family gatherings, Daniel was the one who would take his guitar with my uncle, his dad, Heliodoro. He was always playing and he’s written music his whole life. I came into it a lot later, but I always just loved listening to his songs. I invited him to write something for my new album and he wrote “No hay distancia.” It talks about how for the heart there’s no distance when talking about being far away from your loved ones.

LJN: So, you’re going to be performing mostly the new material from the CD?

AM: Yes, it’s going to be a sneak preview of the new album, which is coming out next year. I don’t have a release date yet, but it’s gonna be around spring or early summer.

LJN: Besides the new music, what else can we expect from the show at Koerner Hall?

AM: Well, I’m actually excited to get to perform with Javier. He’s been having a lot of fun working with the band. Everyone has been a big fan of his music as well. Besides performing the music from my new CD, we’re gonna do a few fresh renditions of some of the old material from my previous recordings “Amor” and “Sola.” It’s gonna be an amazing night.

LJN: This is gonna be your third recording. It feels like yesterday, when you were conducting the Latin jazz radio show at JazzFM and you decided to leave in order to focus entirely on your musical career. That was a brave move…

AM: I miss doing the radio show, but somehow when I’m on stage I try to use some of those skills, and I feel like I’m hosting people on my living room, and that’s how I felt when I was doing the show… like everybody’s invited. I like to make everybody feel they are part of the music.

LJN: When was the last time you had a concert like this?

AM: My last own show was around three years ago, in 2009, when I released my second album “Amor.” Last year in September, I was a guest on a show that David Buchbinder put together. It was called “From Andalucía to Toronto.” I just had found out I was pregnant… Now it feels great to be back. I participated in a couple of shows last summer, but having my own concert is really great. And Koerner Hall is such a special place to perform…

LJN: Once again, Congratulations Amanda. All the best on your coming show and your new recording.

AM: Thank you for giving me the chance to talk to your audience.

Amanda Martinez with special guest Javier Limón: Saturday, Dec 1, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Amanda Martinez, vocals
Javier Limón, guitar
Kevin Laliberté, guitar
Drew Birston, bass
Rosendo “Chendy” León, percussion
Osvaldo Rodriguez, violin
Alexander Brown, trumpet
Pablosky Rosales, tres

Amanda Martinez:

Canadian-Mexican singer Amanda Martinez’s music converges at the intersection of vibrant Afro-Cuban beats, sensual flamenco rhythms, and colourful Mexican folk music. Following performances at the opening ceremonies of the 2011 Pan American Festival in Mexico and the 2010 FIFA World Cup in her mother’s homeland of South Africa, as well as the Montreal Jazz Festival and New York’s iconic Blue Note club, Martinez is steadily garnering international acclaim.  While Ms. Martinez’s second CD, Amor, rose to No.1 on the iTunes World Music charts, both Amor and her debut CD, Sola, garnered numerous accolades. These included three nominations for Latin Jazz Artist of the Year at Canada’s National Jazz Awards and a win for Sola as Best World Music Artist at Toronto’s Independent Music Awards. Ms. Martinez captured the Emerging Artist Award from FACTOR in 2012 and was featured on the Putumayo album Bossa Nova Around the World. She has toured from Dubai to New York City with Juno Award-winning guitarist Jesse Cook, and was asked to record on his top selling CD, Frontiers.Grammy Award-winning producer Javier Limón is collaborating with Ms. Martinez on her third album, which is scheduled for release in the spring of 2013.

Javier Limón: Guitar

The young producer, musician, and composer Javier Limón is a seven-time Latin Grammy Award winner, Artistic Director of Berklee College of Music’s Mediterranean Music Institute in Valencia, as well as 2012 artist-in-residence at Berklee in Boston. He graduated from the Madrid Royal Conservatory, where he studied piano and guitar. He is an active composer and producer who began composing for flamenco artists but has since expanded his reach to Latin jazz musicians and Cuban artists. Recording from Bogota to Paris and New York to Palestine, Limón incorporates a decidedly international vibe in his take on the traditions of Flamenco. His many composition and production credits include major albums by renowned artists such as Paco de Lucía, Bebo Valdés, Diego El Cigala, Enrique Morente, Wynton Marsalis, Anoushka Shankar, Yasmin Levy, and the acclaimed Spanish singer Buika (who will be performing in Koerner Hall on January 25, 2013).