Pianist Jim Martinez, from Sacramento, California, began his musical career at the age of four, receiving 18 years of classical training. He has amassed a list of musical accomplishments encompassing nearly all styles of music.
Martinez, 49, is a Steinway Pianos Artist and has performed or recorded with Jazz notables Lionel Hampton, the Stan Kenton Alumni Band, Christian McBride, Russell Malone, Roy Hargrove, Cheryl Bentyne (of the Manhattan Transfer), the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Benny Golson and Ed Thigpen, the first drummer for the famous Oscar Peterson Trio. Jim has also performed with various Symphony orchestras and toured as a featured guest with the U.S. Air Force Jazz Band (Travis AFB, CA).
Martinez opened for All-Star Night 13 straight years at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho. Other highlights of venues and events include the Bix Biederbecke Festival (Davenport, IA), the Harvest Jazz and Blues in New Brunswick, Canada, the Crystal Cathedral in Southern California, St Peter’s Church in New York City, and The Basement Jazz Club in Sydney, Australia. He worked as pianist and musical director for Joan Rivers and Bob Newhart at Harrah's in Lake Tahoe, NV.
Martinez gained international exposure through his Echoes of Oscar Peterson, which featured Martinez playing his own transcriptions of Peterson's performances. In November 1998, Ed Thigpen traveled from Denmark to join Jim in a Tribute to Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson. They also did a similar tribute together in 1991.
Jim has thirteen CD's to his credit as a leader. His soon-to-be-released project is titled, Good Grief! It’s Still Jim Martinez, A Tribute to Vince Guaraldi, Charles Schulz & Peanuts. Eight of the fifteen tracks were written by Martinez, in the style of Guaraldi. Additionally, Schulz’ company has granted Jim permission to use Snoopy, Woodstock & Schroeder on the CD.
Four of his other recordings are Jazz Praise, his arrangements of church hymns as straight-ahead Jazz. His latest CD’s are Jazz Praise IV: He Keeps Me Swingin' and A Classical and A Jazz Tribute to Edvard Grieg. These recordings are available through his own music label, Invisible Touch Music and at JimMartinez.com, iTunes and other online stores.
Martinez creatively combines hymns and Jazz standards: “Amazing Grace” ala Dave Brubeck’s ”Take Five,” “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord” ala Dizzy Gillespie’s “Night in Tunisia”, and “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus” ala Vince Guaraldi’s “Linus and Lucy”. His projects were recorded at some of the finest recording studios in the country: Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA, Avatar Studios in NYC and the famous Capitol Studios in Hollywood.