Scott Martin is no stranger to LA’s Latin jazz scene. An eleven-year veteran of the Poncho Sanchez Latin Jazz Band, Martin’s chops are just as good on baritone, alto and soprano as on his main horn, the tenor. His flute is also very stylistically appropriate. His impeccable feel for the music shows his passion for Latin jazz, and his compositional style has been honed over his many years of tenure in Sanchez’ band. For a guy who isn’t Latino, he’s pretty close to the real thing. That just goes to show that music is a universal language and exposure, combined with a passion to learn and create, can allow anyone to master any genre.
On Café Cubano Martin has collaborated with a group of his studio peers, including the Grammy award-winning Sanchez, Rene Camacho on bass, and Rick White on guitar, piano, and strings. As with all Latin music, the foundations rest on the rhythms. The auxiliary percussionists are Joey Delon on congas and George Ortiz on timbales. Martin’s horn-playing brothers Stan and Andy Martin also join the first Martin on his debut CD. The three brothers Martin, once comprised the whole horn section of Sanchez’ group. On Café Cubano they play trombone and trumpet/flugelhorn, respectively.
The liner notes, penned by radio personality Jose Rico, host of KKJZ 88.1 FM’s “Jazz on the Latin Side,” suggest an inspiration in Martin’s playing and compositions from the standards of the legendary Willie Bobo. The opener, “Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries,” pays homage to that rich tradition of folk music played in a matter of fact manner, rich in spirit despite often plain lyrics (and where every member of the band sings the chorus to add a festive quality only attained by singing in a group). Be sure to check out Rick White on the title track, “Café Cubano,” and Andy’s virtuosic trombone on “Ojo de Rojo.” Also notable is the leader’s sultry alto soloing on the closer, “Imagination,” which is very reminiscent of Paquito D’Rivera.
You should come out of hearing this collection of tunes with a better understanding of the modern Latin jazz sound. The percussion montunas are as authentic as they come and the solos are very representative of what you might hear in venues from New York to Miami to San Juan (to which Martin pays homage on the fourth track). One will also reveal that Martin is a talented composer-arranger with a bright future, not just as a sideman for many greats, but also as a leader in his own right.
Personnel: Scott Martin - Alto, Tenor, Baritione, Soprano Sax, Flute, Piano, Vocals;
Poncho Sanchez - Congas, Bell, Bongo, Clave, Guiro;
Rick White - Guitar, Piano, Strings, Vocal;
Joey Delon - Congas;
George Ortiz - Timbales;
Rene Camacho - Bass;
Stan "Be Bop" Martin - Trumpet, Flugelhorn;
Andy Martin - Trombone.