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February 19, 2014IM -
Martin joined Local 6 (San Francisco) some 30 years ago, when he started playing with a Dixieland band at Disneyland during his fi rst year at Golden West College in California. He ended up dropping out of school to focus on his work at Disneyland.
“It was a very good thing to join [the AFM] because you had support on any gig you did,” he says. “If I ran into a problem, I could just worry about the music because the union would worry about the problems for you.”
Since he joined the union right out of college, he understands the role it had in his career. “I realize how important it was,” he says.
To get an idea of how music plays a role in Martin’s life, you need to go even further back than his days at Disneyland. He grew up in California’s Castro Valley and Hayward then moved to Long Beach, where he was enriched with music at school and at home. The schools he attended had strong music programs. Many children took part in school bands, and three or four classes of music were taught in his high school. He played in the orchestra, jazz band, and concert band. “It was a great place to grow up because they had really great music in the school,” he says
At home it was hard for Martin to avoid music, as his father was a trumpet player and music educator. He and his two older brothers followed their dad’s lead and played music. “We had jam sessions around the house and music camps when we were kids,” he recalls. “We’d follow my dad to concerts and he dragged us to band rehearsal when I was in school. So, I started playing with professionals.” Martin didn’t have much other inclination for his career. He considered baseball, but opted to follow his talents and family path into music.
Martin has played with some of the biggest names in the music business, including performing at numerous awards shows including those for the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe Awards, Grammy Awards, Emmy Awards, and Academy Awards. He is currently lead trombone on Dancing with the Stars, which he describes as “the best gig in the world.” “It is so cool,” says Martin as he describes a typical day. “We work Monday and Tuesday. We show up in the morning, do a dress rehearsal, then we do the show live for the East Coast. We are done by 7 p.m. It’s such a professional, easy gig. Everyone is having a great time.”
Martin has been a part of the show since it first started.
Martin also fills in at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater, where he’s played for hits like The Producers, The Lion King, Wicked, and Hairspray, to name a few.
When asked if he has a preference for stage or studio, he says he enjoys ensemble work, but he also loves studio work. In particular, he enjoys movies and television, since they give him opportunities to play with the best players. “Everyone checks their egos at the door and we just play like a team,” he adds.
Martin is well-known for his jazz solo work. “I kind of lead a double life,” he jokes about playing jazz. He’s performed with Local 47 bands like Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, the Bill Holman Big Band, and Tom Kubis’ band. He’s also made appearances in bands led by Quincy Jones of Local 47 and Bob Curnow of Local 105 (Spokane, WA).
“What keeps me busy as a musician is my versatility because I play bass trombone—I play orchestral, jazz, rock, or Latin music, anything that comes up,” he says. “I think it’s important for a young musician to be versatile.”
After all these experiences, he is still passionate about his career. “I just enjoy doing it all. It’s a thrill to walk into the studio and see names on records I liked as a kid,” he says. “I’m playing with these guys now. That’s what blows me away.”
Martin has released more than eight albums as either leader or co-leader. The albums often feature his improvisation with other top jazz artists like the late Carl Fontana, Pete Christlieb, Bobby Shew, and Eric Marienthal, members of Local 47.
One of the many highlights in his career was recording a CD with the Holland Metropole Orchestra in the mid ’90s. He was handpicked to play as a soloist with the 60-plus piece orchestra. Together they recorded fi ve songs, and those recordings were picked up by German record label Mons Records. He describes the experience as a big thrill.
As a Yamaha artist he does guest solo appearances at colleges and hosts improvisation music clinics for professional musicians. He is also the trombone instructor for the Jazz Studies Program at Cal State Fullerton.
Martin has two children, Adreina, 13, and Andres, 11, both of whom play music. Adreina plays the fl ute, and Andres plays the trumpet. The family is close-knit, and he is trying to help teach them music as budget cuts limit their exposure to music at school.
Looking back on his career thus far, he says a few things have helped him. “I think it’s my personality,” he explains. “I’m easy to get along with, and I try to be the best musician I can possibly be at all times when I’m on the job. I show up on time. I feel my playing has always stood out.”
Early in his career he says he was shy and quiet most of the time, which was useful. “I didn’t talk a lot, so I didn’t say the wrong thing,” he explains. “I was able to witness and observe and fi gure out how to behave at a gig.” He says he feels lucky to have grown up near L.A. and its strong music scene.
Looking forward, he still has a lot left to play and teach. “I always tell students to ‘play your ass off, get along, and show up on time,’” he says. That strong work ethic has certainly helped Martin in his career.
Next up for Martin is to continue playing with the Big Phat Band, and do work with other musicians and groups, like Harry Connick Jr. of Local 802 (New York City) and the Army Ground Forces Jazz Band.
To hear Andy Martin and read more about him visit www.drewbone.com.