Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Martin, Mel (Melvyn Kenneth)
He worked as a professional musician from the age of fourteen and joined the Musician's Union at the age of sixteen. He graduated from Sacramento High School in 1960 (a classmate was Rufus Reid and Vince Lateano), in 1960-62 attended Sacramento City College and Sacramento State University, and in 1963-65 attended San Francisco State University. He sat in with Wes Montgomery and others. Then he began performing professionally in the San Francisco Bay Area on Soprano, Alto, Tenor Saxophones, Flute, Piccolo, Alto Flute, Bass Flute. In 1971-72 he performed and recorded with Boz Scaggs, Santana, Cold Blood, Cal Tjader, Vince Guaraldi; 1972-75 he performed and recorded original compositions with Azteca; 1974 he transcribed the music of Herbie Hancock for publication. In 1975 he formed the group Listen. In 1983 he formed Bebop and Beyond, which he still leads and which has performed several times at Monterey, numerous other California locations, and in Italy. The regular members of Bebop and Beyond are Wayne Wallace - trombone, Randy Vincent - guitar, and Jeff Chambers - bass. An East Coast version of Bebop And Beyond debuted in January of 1998 at the International Association of Jazz Educators conference with Bobby Watson, Jack Walrath, George Cables, Ray Drummond, and Ben Riley drums. In 1986 he was awarded a Jazz Performance (Composition) Fellowship from the NEA, arranged music for Tony Williams' "Foreign Intrigue," and began teaching saxophone at Sonoma and San Jose State Universities as well as privately. In 1987-1990 he did soundtrack writing for CBS Television series "The Twilight Zone", and played on the soundtracks of the films "Rumblefish", "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", "The Warriors" and "Street Music". His other activities include performing with tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain at Yale and Stanford Universities, 1991 & '92 tours of Japan with the Benny Carter, Orchestra, helping to assemble the orchestra and perform the Bay Area premiere of Charles Mingus ' "Epitaph" at Davies Symphony Hall, and assembling big bands for Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, and Benny Carter. He performed and recorded with Gillespie in (1992) (partially supported by an NEA g rant), with Freddie Hubbard (several dates in 1992-4), and with Kenny Barron (early 1990s, funded by the NEA). In 1995-96 he performed at a number of N.Y. nightclubs. He has also recorded music for commercials and films with Boz Scaggs. He has applied his talents to a wide variety of performing and recording situations including Santana, Azteca, Boz Scaggs, Cal Tjader, Vince Guaraldi, Denny Zeitlin, Hubert Laws, Billy Cobham, as well as a multitude of independent studio projects. He also directs a big band. The repertoire of The Mel Martin Big Band consists of new arrangements of many Basie, Ellington and Benny Carter favorites as well as original compositions. Their debut performance was at the 24th annual Russian River Jazz Festival in Guerneville, California on Saturday, September 9, 2000. His most recent project is Mel Martin and the Tenor Conclave featuring Mel Martin on tenor and soprano saxophones, Craig Handy on tenor saxophone, Tim Armacost on tenor saxophone, Mark Levine on piano, Rob Fisher on bass and Akira Tana on drums. Their first project is The Music of Joe Henderson.
He and his wife Catey have one daughter, Sara who plays the harp and one grandchild, Zachary Cosmo Breindel.
Bebop and Beyond (1984); Bebop & Beyond Plays Dizzy Gillespie (1991); Plays Thelonious Monk (1990); Listen: Growing, Listen Featuring Mel Martin, She Who Listens; Other Side Up; Friends and Mentors; Mel Martin Plays Benny Carter
Various Artists: Jazz Celebration: A Tribute to Carl Jefferson; Freddie Cole: A Circle of Love, Always; Afro Blue Band: Impressions; Mongo Santamaria: Mongo Returns!; Pucho and His Latin Soul Brothers; Azteca: Azteca, Pyramid of the Moon; Santana: Caravanserai, Welcome; Susan Muscarella: Rainflowers; Cold Blood: Boz Scaggs; Boz Scaggs & Band, Band; Douglas 6: Music of El Topo
Film and TV scores:
Rumblefish w/ Stewart Copeland; Invasion of the Body Snatchers w/ Denny Zeitlen; The Warriors; Street Music; The Twilight Zone CBS
Acer Computers, Kia Automobiles, Mainstay Investments, Cellular One, Zima Beverages, American Raisins, Coca-Cola, Chrysler, Amazon.com, MacDonald's, AT&T, Shell Oil
Educational recordings and videos:
Mel Martin Masterclass CD - Saxophone Journal May/June 1995
Bebop and Beyond Play Along CD - Jazz Player Dec./Jan. 1994
Woodwinds & Reeds - Standard School Broadcast Series w/ Stan Getz, Jean-Pierre Rampal
Articles, reviews and interviews for The Saxophone Journal and Jazz Player Magazines including Stan Getz, Steve Lacy, Wayne Shorter Charles McPherson
In 1955: Played first professional engagements
1960: Graduated from Sacramento High School
1960-62: Attended Sacramento City College and Sacramento State University
1963-65: Attended San Francisco State University
1965: Began performing professionally in the San Francisco Bay Area
1971-72: Performed and recorded with Boz Scaggs, Santana, Cold Blood, Cal Tjader, Vince Guaraldi and others.
1972-75: Performed and recorded original compositions with Azteca for CBS Records
1974: Transcribed the music of Herbie Hancock for publication
1975: Formed the group Listen Featuring Mel Martin and recorded two albums of original compositions for the Inner City label
1976: Awarded a Jazz Composition Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts; Awarded "Musician of the Year" from NARAS, also a "Bammy" for the Best New Jazz Album; Performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival main stage with Listen
1983: Formed Bebop and Beyond, recorded debut album for Concord Jazz, appearances at the Russian River, Monterey, Verona, Italy, Pacific Coast and Concord Jazz Festivals, Davies Symphony Hall, Great American Music Hall, Cal Poli Pomona, Mt. Shasta Arts Center, University of Santa Clara, Stanford Jazz Workshop, Jazz In The City, Eden Arts Center in Denver.
1984: Released solo album "Other Side Up" on Catero Records, appearances at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and DeYoung Museum.
1986: Awarded a Jazz Performance Fellowship from the NEA; Performed with McCoy Tyner, Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, Ella Fitzgerald Yale University with Zakir Hussain; Arranged music for Tony Williams' "Foreign Intrigue" on Blue Note Records; Professor of Jazz Saxophone at Sonoma and San Jose State Universities
1987-1990: Composer/arranger for CBS Television series "The Twilight Zone", conducted master classes at The Stanford Jazz Workshop Contributed record reviews, interviews and articles to The Saxophone Journal Toured in conjunction with the California Arts Council and Western States Arts Alliance; Bebop and Beyond funded by the California Arts Council , Zellerbach Family Fund and NEA Jazz Ensembles, Featured soloist and contractor for the McCoy Tyner, Benny Carter and Joe Henderson big bands: Featured soloist with Kulintang Arts Ensemble; Honored by the Jewish Community Museum as part of their Jewish Presence in Jazz Series; Recorded and released first album in Bebop and Beyond's Jazz Master's Series "Bebop and Beyond Plays Thelonious Monk" on Bluemoon Records, produced by Orrin Keepnews and partially funded by NEA Recording program; Awarded a second NEA Recording grant for the music of Dizzy Gillespie.
1991- 1992: Produced, recorded and released "Bebop and Beyond Plays Dizzy Gillespie" with special guest Dizzy Gillespie; Two Japanese tours ('91 & '92) with the Benny Carter Orchestra, Performances with the Freddie Hubbard Quintet; Performance with Bebop and Beyond and Dizzy Gillespie at the Monterey Jazz Festival Performance with the Dizzy Gillespie big band and Bebop and Beyond at Jazz In The City's "The Music of Diz, Bird and Monk"; Regular appearances at Yoshi's, Kimball's, The No-Name Bar, Ritz Carlton Hotel, Lascaux, Bimbo's, concerts at The Stanford Jazz Workshop, Sonoma State University, San Jose State University, Forest Meadows with Zakir Hussain Rhythm Experience, Appearances at the Hollywood Bowl with Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie and Bebop and Beyond; Contracting and performance with the Benny Carter big band for Jazz In The City NEA Jazz Ensembles award (1992) for Bebop and Beyond; Ongoing private teaching practice
1993-94: Quartet performances at the Monterey Jazz Festival and Stanford University; Articles for Jazz Player and Saxophone Journal magazines; Performances with the Benny Carter Quintet and the Freddie Hubbard Quintet; Ongoing Jazz Workshop at Bernard Osher Marin Jewish Community Center
1992: NEA Recording and Fellowship Jazz Performance Awards 1993-94. Recording of the music of Benny Carter with Benny Carter on CD and CD-ROM Series of East and West Coast; performances with pianist Kenny Barron funded by the NEA. National tours as solo artist and Clinician
1995-96: Jazz In The Schools Project with Bebop and Beyond; IAJE Conference performance with Bebop and Beyond; Ongoing Jazz Workshops at Big Ear Studios - Novato, CA; Performances at The Five Spot, The Knitting Factory, Birdland, The Fez, Blue Note - New York City; Duo Performance with Roger Kellaway at The Osher Jewish Community Center - San Rafael, CA and The Jazz Bakery - Los Angeles; Denver Bandmaster's Association Cotati Jazz Festival - Cotati, CA; North Bay Jazz Festival - Manchester, CA, Black & White Ball - San Francisco, CA, Telluride Jazz Festival, Redwood Jazz Festival - Sonoma; State University, Catalina's Bar & Grill - Los Angeles, Monterey Jazz Festival - Monterey, CA w/ Bebop and Beyond. The Jazz Store - Carmel, CA Masterclass at IAJE Conference - Atlanta, GA; Kuumbwa Jazz Center w/ Hal Galper Trio - Santa Cruz, CA; Guest Soloist at Solano Community College; Ongoing Jazz Brunch series at the Ritz Carlton Hotel - San Francisco, CA; Regular appearances at Yoshi's, Kimball's, The No-Name Bar, Jazz at Pearl's. Recording of Commercials with Michael Boyd Music for Acer Computers, Kia Automobiles, Mainstay Investments, Cellular One, Zima Beverages, American Raisins, Shell Oil, Coca-Cola and Fantasy Records. Studio recordings for Freddy Cole, Mongo Santamaria, The Afro Blue Band and others; Concord Tribute to Carl Jefferson
1997: Three Day Residency at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ; Denver School Clinics with Kolacny Music; Appearances with The Joe Henderson Big Band at Yoshi's - Oakland, CA and The Playboy Jazz Festival -Hollywood Bowl. Featured Artist at Benny Carter 90th Birthday Tribute at The Hollywood Bowl with Jimmy Heath, Phil Woods, Herb Geller, Ray Brown, Harold Jones,
Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra and Joe Lovano. Appearance with the Louie Bellson Orchestra - Carmel Performing Arts Center; Appearance at The Benny Carter Memorial Concert at UCLA September 28, 2003. Masterclass at the Stanford Jazz Workshop Design of Lighthouse Professional Group Web Site. Internet Panel - Jazz Times Convention, September, 1997 and 2004
In 1977 he received the Musician Of The Year award from the San Francisco chapter of NARAS (GRAMMY) as well as a BAMMY for Best Jazz Album of 1977 .
Bebop and Beyond have received a number of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The California Arts Council and The Zellerbach, Fleishhaker and Columbia Foundations for presentations and recordings of the highest artistic caliber. Mel has also received four National Endowment for the Arts grants, one in 1976 for composition , one in 1986 for performance and two in 1994, one to record the music of Benny Carter with Benny Carter as special guest as well as a Jazz Performance Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts with which he performed a number of concerts with pianist Kenny Barron . He was honored in 1987 by the San Francisco Jewish Museum as part of their Jewish Presence in Jazz Series.