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, 52, is a Steinway Pianos Artist and has performed or recorded with Jazz notables Lionel Hampton, the Stan Kenton Alumni, Christian McBride, Russell Malone, Roy Hargrove, Cheryl Bentyne (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 from Travis AFB (CA). He recently worked as pianist and musical director for Joan Rivers and Bob Newhart at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe, NV.
For thirteen straight years, Martinez opened All-Star Night at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho. He has performed internationally as a leader, including Yoshi’s San Francisco, Bix Biederbecke Festival (Davenport, IA), the Harvest Jazz and Blues in New Brunswick, Canada, St Peter’s Church in New York City and The Basement Jazz Club in Sydney, Australia.
Martinez gained international exposure through his ‘Echoes of Oscar Peterson’, which featured Martinez playing some his own transcriptions of Peterson’s performances. In November 1998, Ed Thigpen traveled from Denmark to join Jim in a tribute to Art Tatum & Oscar Peterson. They also did a similar tribute together in 1991.
As a leader, Jim has thirteen CD’s to his credit. His most recent project, Good Grief! It’s Still Jim Martinez, A Tribute to Vince Guaraldi, Charles Schulz, & Peanuts, peaked at #10 on the national RMR Jazz charts, and was on the JazzWeek charts a total of 26 weeks. Eight of the fifteen tracks were written by Martinez, in the style of Guaraldi. Additionally, Schulz’ company granted Jim permission to use Snoopy’s image on the CD cover and within.
Jim has been performing his live annual holiday concert, A Charlie Brown Christmas around the U.S. with his quartet for over 20 years. But now, his show is being featured with Pops symphony orchestras around the US from California to Florida.
Four of Martinez’s other recordings are Jazz Praise, his arrangements of church hymns as straight-ahead Jazz. His most recent Jazz Praise is the fouth in the series: He Keeps Me Swingin’, featuring guests Christian McBride, Roy Hargrove, and many others. All of Jim’s recordings are produced through his own music label, Invisible Touch Music and are availble at JimMartinez.com, iTunes and most 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”. These 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.
Jim sold his company, Invisible Touch Music Software, which was founded in 1989. The company arranged and recorded MIDI files for all digital and acoustic player-pianos. One of the highlights was a three-year agreement giving exclusive international distribution rights to Warner Brothers Publications.
In the church, Martinez has been served as Minister of Music, worship leader, and principle organist.
Martinez is also a concert promoter, graphic & web designer, and recently completed his first music book of jazz piano hymn arrangements for Hope Publishing in Chicago. Along with being a Steinway Pianos Performing Artist, he is also a recording artist for PianoDisc Player Systems and QRS Music.
Jim lives in Rocklin, CA (near Sacramento) with his wife, Suzy, and two sons, James and Ben.