Rebecca Martin: Here, the Same, But Different
RM: Thank you. I'm really proud of it. The band is wonderful. It features Steve Cardenas, Ben Monder , Bill McHenry , a drummer named Darren Beckett - someone I only recently met, a musician from Ireland who was a gold mine find - he's very soulful and earthy- and Matt Penman on acoustic bass, and finally, Pete Rende , who is a big part of what I do now. Pete plays a myriad of instruments on this record that include piano, pump organ, Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes, Pedal Steel. His music is a beautiful, textural backdrop for my songs and my singing.
AAJ: Well, you picked some great players.
RM: I've been quite fortunate, I know.
AAJ: Those are two of the best guitar players on the planet, Cardenas and Monder, not to mention the rest of the guys.
RM: I really think so.
AAJ: Are they playing together on most of the tunes?
RM: Yes. I can't ever get enough of that sound.
AAJ: These guys can get very textural-both of them. Where was it done?
RM: Sear Sound, in New York City. It's Walter Sear's place . He has a very impressive studio with probably one of the best mic collections in New York - maybe in the country. Maybe even on the planet. We were downstairs, using the board that was rebuilt by Walter himself. With a bit of budget, we were able to record the basic tracks in two days. It was luxurious to have that extra time.
AAJ: Did you rehearse it a lot?
RM: We rehearsed at my place a few weeks prior to the record date. I made a weekend of it upstate at the house, with a paella and late night poker games.
AAJ: Did you say paella slash poker?
RM: Yes! A lot of the pre-production work had been done by performing so regularly together over the years in NYC. So the weekend was more of a run through and an excuse for all of us to spend time together like that.
AAJ: You don't seem to gig a super lot .
RM: I haven't so much outside of the city in the last few years. New York is accessible, and all of the musicians are in town. I was not willing to put my energy into being on the phone to get things going outside of our area. Playing in NYC on a regular basis made it practical for us to develop the music and build an audience here. I've halted that recently to re-fuel, as it just felt like the natural thing to do. This particular record was a big process, and I've needed the time afterwards to lay low, practice and write. I'm looking forward now to get out and present the music and musicians, especially with the support of MAXJAZZ.
AAJ: It's a good thing you want to be on the road, because I would assume they're going to want to put you out there.
RM: I'm very dedicated to it. Not since my time in " Once Blue " have I been on the road in the way that I'm anticipating now. I've been working with the same booking agent and tour publicist Roadwork Music , two great women who've stood by me for about 5 years. We've been preparing for this for a long time. With the addition of MAXJAZZ I'm ready to go.
AAJ: Well, by my ears you're way more wonderful than a lot of folks that are hugely popular already, and you beat some of these folks to the punch a long time ago, but people didn't get the chance to hear it.
RM: It's been a long road to get to where I am now. I feel very strong about where I am creatively.
AAJ: Do you have loads more than the sixteen on the record?
RM: About 40 more currently that I feel are truthful and balanced.
AAJ: When you speak about writing the truth, I think about the lyrics.
RM: I do too, mostly...
AAJ: But you're writing the truth on the musical end too, if you ask me. Now, you could say the music emphasizes jazz with pop sensibilities or you can turn that around and say it's pop with jazz sensibilities. How did that evolve?
RM: The music's truth always seems to be there. It's the source. I am not worried about being self-conscious when it comes to harmony and melody. As for the music as a whole, without a doubt, the sound that we've created is a complete collaboration with all of the musicians. Everyone I've ever played with in NYC has added to it. My own influences are mutt like, I suppose like all of us who grew up in rural areas in the 80's. My household was quite eclectic, musically speaking. I had a pretty mean diet of pop, classical and jazz. My mother is a beautiful pianist and we would sing together most nights the songs of George Gershwin, Cole Porter and various Broadway musicals. My family was also very involved with our Acadian heritage, which is what I mostly am, so there was a great deal of Acadian fiddle music as well...and my grandfather Joseph Agape played a mean fiddle. After our Sunday family dinners each week there would be some sort of music session. My mother sought out a recording studio for me to be involved with when I was about nine years old. I spent my entire growing years there exploring sound and music. Growing up on 200 acres in Maine was a wonderful place to process it all organically.
AAJ: Please expand a little on the music studio thing.