A consummate master of Afro-Cuban folkloric music, Pedro Pablo “Pedrito” Martinez doesn’t just play the obligatory handful of standard batá rhythms – he plays the monumentally complex Oru seco exquisitely on each drum, or on all three at once. He’s also the world’s first-call rumbero – playing, singing and dancing with dozens of groups and on over 100 recordings and contributing to or appearing in several important films, including Calle 54 (2000) and Chico and Rita (2010). Pedrito Martinez returns to Saratoga for the first time since 2012, performing with The Pedrito Martinez Group during the 38th annual Saratoga Freihofer’s Jazz Festival at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, performing on June 27, 2015
Equally at home in popular music, Pedrito’s perfectly intoned tenor voice, seamlessly combines popular and folkloric influences, infectious energy, humor, charisma and dance moves make him as formidable a front man as he is a percussionist. He draws on these many talents simultaneously and continuously in PMG.
Since settling in New York City in the fall of 1998, Pedrito has recorded and/or performed with Paquito D’Rivera, Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Eddie Palmieri, Bebo Valdés, Bruce Springsteen, Michele Rosewoman, Cassandra Wilson; Brian Lynch, Arturo O’Farrill, Joe Lovano, Issac Delgado, Edie Brickell, Eliane Elias, Stefon Harris, Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Sting (for his rainforest benefit, with Elton John, James Taylor, Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga).
Honors that Pedrito has received include the Thelonius Monk Award for Afro-Latin Hand Percussion in 2000; the 2014 Sphinx Medal of Excellence; the 2014 Jazz Journalists Association “Percussionist of the Year”; the 2014 Modern Drummer Readers Poll #1 “Percussionist of the Year”; and one of Downbeat Magazine’s “80 Coolest Things in Jazz Today.”
The Pedrito Martinez Group features Martinez, bassist Álvaro Benavides, percussionist Jhair Sala, and pianist, trumpeter, arranger and composer Edgar Pantoja-Aleman. It has appeared at Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Apollo Theater, Newport Jazz Festival, globalFest, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, TED Conference, Montreal Jazz Festival, The Red Sea Festival, Montreux Jazz Fest, Sydney Festival, Bonnaroo, SF Jazz, Yoshi’s/San Francisco, London Jazz Festival, Umbria Summer and Winter Jazz Festivals, North Sea Festival, Saratoga Jazz Festival, Yerba Buena Gardens Festival/San Francisco, Festival Internationale, Carnaval on the Mile, The Playboy Jazz Festival, The Barbican/London with Wynton Marsalis, The Jazz Standard NYC, Calle Ocho Festival, Le Duc Lombard/Paris.
PMG’s first studio album, The Pedrito Martinez Group, was released in October 2013 on Motema Music, featuring special guests Wynton Marsalis, John Scofield, Steve Gadd, Marc Quinones, and Gary Schreiner. The album was among NPR’s Favorite Albums of 2013, iTunes’ Top Ten Jazz Albums for 2013, and The Boston Globe’s Critics Top Ten Albums of 2013, and was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album.