Joe Martin is one of the most sought-after bassists on the current New York City jazz scene. Known for his warm sound, facile ear, harmonic flexibility, and lyrical solos, he has performed with a diverse range of musicians which includes Andy Bey, Vinicius Cantuaria, Bill Charlap, Anat Cohen, Avishai Cohen, Billy Drummond, Art Farmer, Aaron Goldberg, Jon Gordon, Ari Hoenig, Joel Frahm, Larry Goldings, Gilad Hekselman, Ethan Iverson, Guillermo Klein, Jonathan Kreisberg, Ivan Lins, Lionel Loueke, Bill McHenry, John McNeil, Brad Mehldau, The Mingus Big Band, Ben Monder, Jane Monheit, Chris Potter, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Maria Schneider, Jaleel Shaw, Mark Turner, and many others. Continuous musical dialogue amongst great musicians is a major source of inspiration for Joe.
Composition is another indispensable component to Joe's musical world. A strong melodic sense and the use of the bass part as both function and counterpoint are apparent in his writing. His most recent CD, available on Anzic Records, is titled Not By Chance, and it features Chris Potter, Brad Mehldau, and Marcus Gilmore. His debut CD Passage (Fresh Sound New Talent Records) which features Mark Turner, Kevin Hays, and Jorge Rossy, received much acclaim from critics and musicians alike. He has lead gigs in New York City at clubs including The Jazz Gallery, The Jazz Standard, Smoke, and Smalls.
Born in Kansas City in 1970, Joe grew up surrounded by music in Pella, Iowa. His father, a retired music history professor, was clarinetist with the Des Moines Symphony for 28 years, and his mother, a librarian by profession, is an amateur violinist. His younger brother Phil is a drummer who resides in Chicago. He listened regularly to his parents’ extensive classical music collection, which also included records by Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, and George Shearing.
His grandfather was a jazz pianist who played nightclub and dance gigs in Joplin, Missouri. On family visits, his grandfather taught him many of the great American standards. Growing up in this nourishing musical environment gave Joe his deep love and respect for all music. Joe began his musical studies on cello at age seven. He also played trumpet in his school band. At age fifteen he picked up the electric bass and with encouragement from his parents, band director, and Des Moines bassist Susie Miget, took the instrument home for the summer. He felt an immediate rapport with the bass, playing by ear and learning bass lines he heard on the radio.