On Saturday, November 9, 2019, the Westminster Conservatory played host to jazz pianist Hector Martignon. He spent the day working with Honors Music Program students, and the day concluded with a brilliant performance with our Jazz Coordinator (and his former student!), John Paul Velez!
•New York based-, Colombian born Hector Martignon has composed, orchestrated, produced, performed and recorded music in a wide spectrum of genres, from Classical and Crossover, to Jazz and World Music, to Rock and Pop. His five albums as a leader, two as co-leader (MOZART’s BLUE FANTASIES and BACH’s SECRET FILES) as well as his work on over a hundred albums, scores for five feature films, three Broadway Musicals and multiple other projects, showcase his wide-ranging area of expertise.
After several nominations as a sideman, two of his five solo CDs were nominated for a GRAMMY Award (REFUGEE, 2008, and SECOND CHANCE, 2010) . He arranged and performed parts of the score of Ang Lee’s OSCAR-nominated movie EAT, DRINK, MAN, WOMAN.
His first professional recording was at age 18 (Mikis Theodorakis’s “Canto General”) while one of the most recent was on legendary rock band CHICAGO’s latest production, the Latin-tinged “EXITOS”.
He has written symphonic orchestrations, performed and recorded by the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra and compositions like ABRE LOS OJOS, CIERRA LOS OJOS, commissioned and premiered by the MUSICA DE CAMARA STRING ORCHESTRA at St Patrick’s Cathedral in April 2011. Hector is currently working on a first CD with his BANDAGRANDE Big Band + String Quartet as well as an album with selections out of a series of 7 solo piano recitals at the Ludwigsburg University of Education (Germany), where he conducts a “compact seminar” on Classic Music-based improvisation every November.
As a requested sideman he has toured the world with such greats as Paquito D’Rivera, Ray Barretto, Gato Barbieri, Steve Turre, Don Byron, Tito Puente and was featured pianist with Max Roach’s PROJECT AMERICA at the 92 St Y.
His joy of teaching has made him a requested guest-lecturer and performance teacher in music faculties and academies in several countries of Europe, Japan, North- and South America. Hector wrote an instructional book on Latin piano commissioned and published by Hal Leonard, the SALSA PIANO BOOK.
• Martignon’s abilities as a pianist have always been enriched by his interest in varied musical genres. He paid for his studies of classical piano and composition at the prestigious Freiburger Musikhochschule in Germany by performing with the best Afro-Cuban and Brazilian bands of Europe, backing stars like Celia Cruz and Ismael Quintana on their European tours, and recording with Tata Güiness and Arturo Sandoval. At the same time he was attending seminars of contemporary composition with masters like Gyorgi Ligetti, Luigi Nono and Karl Heinz Stockhausen. He also performed classical music in recitals and concerts in Germany, Italy and his native Colombia, specializing in Chopin, Bach and Debussy.
One of his latest endeavors has been a Jazz-Classical crossover project, co-lead with star virtuoso trumpeter Joe Burgstaller, in which the music of the classics, from Bach to Ellington is re-created in a chamber-jazz setting, to be enjoyed on their two releases, “Mozart’s Blue Fantasies” and “Bach’s Secret Files”.
Living in Brazil for a one-year love affair with that country and its music, Martignon soon became a requested studio musician and worked for star producer Carlinhos Brown. Since relocating to New York City, Martignon has been one of the most sought-after pianists on the Latin jazz scene. He’s toured North and South America, Europe, and Asia with the bands of Mongo Santamaría, Gato Barbieri, Steve Turre and Don Byron, who had him record in his latest CD. He was featured pianist with the bands of Tito Puente, Mario Bauzá, Chico O’Farrill, Paquito D’Rivera, and Max Roach in his “Project America.” Most notably, Martignon was pianist for the late Ray Barretto’s various ensembles. During his eight-year association with Barretto, his contributions as pianist, arranger, and composer were fundamental in shaping the sound of the now famous New World Spirit Sextet.
One of his last collaborations with Barretto, “My Summertime,” was a favorite nominee for a Grammy award. Martignon’s versatility has also made him extremely active in the film and television industries. Besides playing all piano parts, he arranged and produced many parts of the score for the Oscar-nominated film “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” by Ang Lee and performed the piano and keyboard parts for many movie scores (i.e., “Gloria”, “Relativity”). He is composer of the original music of two feature films, one of which, “Septimo Cielo”, won international awards. He also collaborated in the production of many Broadway musicals (“Chronicle of a Death Foretold”, Paul Simon’s “The Capeman”, “Selena Forever”) as conductor, arranger, and co-composer. In the fall of 2003 Hector visited Slovenia and Russia to collaborate with singer-songwriter Vitaly Osmsçko’s first symphonic CD . The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra recorded in Moscow the orchestrations written by Hector.
As a composer, producer and arranger of TV and radio music his record is no less impressive. In 2001 he landed two spots for HBO Latino, and one for Coca Cola. HECTOR”S FOREIGN AFFAIR In 1998 Martignon performed with his quartet “Foreign Affair”at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s famed annual festival “The Next Wave” on a triple bill with Tito Puente’s “Top Percussion” and Don Byron’s “Music for six Musicians”. This proved to be a turning point for him and his ensemble, which evolved from the strictly acoustic trio sound of the first two CDs to a more eclectic and electric quartet sound. The new configuration that evolved from that memorable concert started a series of concerts and recordings, with guitarist Mark Whitfield, Cameroonian bassist Richard Bona and Cuban drummer Horacio “Negro” Hernández. This quartet performed and recorded live during a weeklong stint at New York’s famous Birdland. The group has also performed on BET television festivals, at jazz clubs in Manhattan, and made various appearances in clubs and open-air festivals in his native Colombia and in Europe. Martignon’s third solo project, to be released in the fall of 2003, is not only a reflection of the group’s new musical direction but also of his interaction with other world class musicians. Eddie Gomez, Jeff Watts, Mathew Garrison, John Benitez, Dafnis Prieto, Willard Dyson have all made their unique contribution to this, Martignon’s new sound of Jazz. Martignon never fails to surprise, challenge and delight us. Stay tuned and get involved in this affair.