Mel Martin

Primary Instrument: Saxophone

Born: June 7, 1942    

Mel Martin

Mel Martin is a composer, arranger, bandleader, saxophone and flute player - one of the most versatile and creative musicians to ever emerge from the San Francisco Bay Area. In his long career, he’s played a part in many of the innovative movements that have come out of that creative community. He sat in with Wes Montgomery and his brothers while he was still a teenager, played in John Handy’s Freedom Band in 1962, worked and recorded with many of the progressive rock and Latin rock bands of the late 60s and early 70s including The Loading Zone, Cold Blood, Azteca and Boz Scaggs. He founded the award winning Listen, one of the early West Coast jazz-fusion bands in 1976. He’s currently artistic director of Bebop and Beyond, a group he founded in 1983, as well as leading the Mel Martin Quartet, The Tenor Conclave, the Mel Martin Big Band and the Benny Carter All Star Tribute Band....
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”This is gritty, driving music from a high-octane performer who has been delivering the goods for many years.” Ted Goia -

“Never content to rest on his laurels, Mel brings a wide variety of jazz stylings to this release.” Jeff Krow - Audiophile Audition

“While this CD resists easy classification, it is among the most compelling recordings that Mel Martin has made during his entire career.” - Ken Dryden, Billboard

“Martin’s a master of phrasing and a meticulous melody maker.” George Fendel - Jazz Society of Oregon

“I am most impressed with Mel Martin's musicianship.” Benny Carter

“Mr. Martin displays a dazzling technique and an awesome command of jazz harmony. His approach to playing is unique. He doesn't sound like anyone else” Saxophone Journal

“Blistering bebop chops...his tenor speaks in romantic, sculptured phrases..upbeat, naturally fluent melodic qualities.” Owen Cordle - Jazz Times Magazine

“Martin is a solid workmanlike, improviser with a facile technique, a firm rhythmic feel, and a vivid harmonic vision.” Don Heckman - Los Angeles Times

“An amazing tenor and soprano saxophone player, sophisticated with a fresh point of view.” Saxophone Journal

“The Mel Martin Band was exciting, rewarding and more.” Phil Elwood - San Francisco Examiner

“The Whirlwind with the woodwinds” San Francisco Chronicle

“Mel Martin's interpretation of his own tune 'Longhorn' was a wailing, logically constructed chain of phrases. His arrangements were clean and straight forward. Downbeat Magazine

“Martin's ballad work shows a remarkable feeling for styles associated with a couple of generations before he was born...his sound is as inherently attractive as anyone I can think of .” Phil Elwood - San Francisco Examiner

“Mel Martin is one of the few reedmen who has really developed a big, pure, shimmering flute tone and his breathtaking work soars majestically.” Jesse Hamlin - San Francisco Chronicle

“A great Teacher” Stan Getz

“A hidden treasure - invaluable.” Jeff Kaliss - San Francisco Chronicle

“You really play your ass off!” Dizzy Gillespie

“I grew up in the neighborhood and went to school with Benny’s daughter. As to Benny - I wish I could be as great as Benny Carter.” Sonny Rollins - 2007

“It is obvious on this great recording that Mel Martin was finely mentored by Benny Carter, my number one saxophone hero, due to the clear Carter influence on Mel’s playing. His flute playing is also quite good on People Time.” Jimmy Heath - 2007

Primary Instrument: Saxophone

Location: Novato, CA

Willing to teach: Advanced students only.


I have had a longstanding commitment to education. I believe that part of a musician's function is to pass along their standards, knowledge and tradition to others. Teaching allows the musician to continue their own learning process. I have taught privately for many years and continue to do so. I have also taught in colleges and have done numerous clinics and Jazz Workshops throughout the United States. I have honed my private teaching methods to two separate but parallel areas. I emphasize development of tonal and technical studies while simultaneously emphasizing application of these techniques to musical situations. My belief is you cannot have one without the other. My educational background includes thorough musical training at Sacramento High School with bandmaster Aubrey Penman, private studies with saxophonist Bud Harphum of Sacramento and a few profound lessons with Lee Konitz. I attended San Francisco State University where I studied flute with Herb Benkman and Paul Renzi and composition with Albert Socco. The rest of my jazz studies took place on the streets of San Francisco during the early 'sixties.

Clinic/Workshop Information:

Mel Martin’s extensive educational experience includes professor of jazz saxophone at San Jose and Sonoma State Universities, twelve consecutive years on the staff of The Stanford Jazz Workshop and conducting many workshops and clinics at schools throughout the U.S. In addition, he maintains a large roster of private students. He also conducts an ongoing Advanced Jazz Workshop at his studio and in select Novato schools. His visits to schools include improvisation workshops, rehearsal, private instruction, tonal studies, and combo and big band performances and concerts. Original arrangements by Mel Martin , Benny Carter, Jimmy Heath and others for both big band and small groups may be requested in advance. Mel Martin is available for Concerts, Artist in Residencies, Jazz Workshops, Seminars and Clinics and is a Rico Reeds (J. D’Addario Corporation) Yangisawa Saxophone (Conn-Selmer, Inc.) clinician.
Mel Martin endoreses YanagisawaSaxophones and Leblanc clarinets (Dist. by Conn-Selmer), Rico Reeds (D'Addario Corp.) and Ponzol Mouthpieces exclusively. He plays both W.S. Haynes and Sankyo Prima flutes.
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