Trombonist Andy Martin has been a fixture on the West Coast scene for years. Growing up in a musical family (his father was a musical educator as well as a trumpeter and he plays with his brothers as part of the Martin Brothers Horns), his website notes that he counts among his influences the trombone greats Frank Rosolino and Carl Fontana, as well as saxophonist Michael Brecker and trumpeter Clifford Brown. Besides working and recording with the likes of the late Vic Lewis, Pete Christlieb and Carl Fontana, he has been an in demand player whether in the recording studio (Coldplay, Pussycat Dolls and Michael Buble), worked on most major televised award shows and on the soundtracks for over 75 major films. He has played and been featured in about every Los Angeles big band and his new album with The Christian Jacob Trio, “Setting the Standard” (Drewbone), is his eight album as a leader or co-leader.
Despite his accomplishments, this writer was not familiar with him prior to this recording with the afore-mentioned trio of pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Trey Henry and drummer Ray Brinker. The title has several meanings including the standard he sets with his highly accomplished playing as well his the wonderful interpretations of various standards heard her starting with the bouncy opener, “Pick Yourself Up,” (from Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields)where his warm and precise bebop playing is complemented by Jacob’s trio. Jacob is a marvelous pianist with a swinging melodic touch. On the classic Ira Gershwin-Kurt Weil ballad, “My Ship,” Martin employs such a lovely tone with bassist Henry also stating the theme.
The rhythm adds a nice Latin touch to “That’s All,” while the use of the languid tempo for “Put on a Happy Face,” gives a wistful flavor to the composition. “Line For Lewis” opens with some marvelous a capella trombone as he states the theme before Jacob chimes in for a few bars and then the band kicks of on an uptempo romp. The remarkable performance of Jacob’s “M.B.E. Blues,” sounds inspired by “Kind of Blue,” particularly “All Blues.” Jacob’s piano evokes Bill Evans while Martin sounds at home in this modal context as his bopish rendition of “Old Man River,” and the crisp swing of “Stomping at the Savoy,” with the trio adding their own unique twist to the accompaniment.
The pleasures of Andy Martin and the Christian Jacob Trio have increased with repeated listening. “Setting the Standard,” is an apt title for what is an exceptional release. It can be ordered from Martin’s website, www.drewbone.com, and from cdbaby.
This review appeared originally in Jazz & Blues Report (September 2009) which can be downloaded at www.jazz-blues.com.
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