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Acclaimed singer/songwriter Rebecca Martin joins Portugal’s Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos for a stunning collection of original songs and beloved standards

After Midnight, due out January 28 2022 (and on January 12, 2022 in Japan), also features bass great and Martin’s longtime collaborator Larry Grenadier, with lush arrangements by the OJM and pianist Guillermo Klein

Singer/songwriter Rebecca Martin has a particular gift for creating intimate, introspective moods, as if her songs are secrets whispered into the listener’s ear, or treasured memories drifting up from the subconscious. 

In the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos (OJM), Martin, accompanied by her husband and frequent collaborator, bassist Larry Grenadier, has found a perfect match. On their first collaboration with Martin and Grenadier, After Midnight, the Portugal-based ensemble, conducted by Pedro Guedes, proves itself vividly sensitive to the hushed nuances and delicate impressionism of her finely crafted songs. The album, due out January 28, 2022 (in Japan on January 12, 2022) comprises pieces from Martin’s 30-year career alongside aptly chosen standards that spotlight her multi-hued interpretations. The release date is auspicious, landing on OJM’s 25-year anniversary

“It’s rare as a singer to have the opportunity to work and record with an orchestra today,” Martin says. “It was a hefty challenge, with limited time together, and one that I eagerly embraced.”

Nate Chinen wrote in the New York Times that Martin “exudes the plainest sort of poise, almost radical in its utter lack of flash,” saying that her performances “seem less like songs than like articulations of her state of mind.” She began her career in the early 90s as part of the groundbreaking duo Once Blue, with Grammy-winning songwriter Jesse Harris (Norah Jones). Along with a half-dozen acclaimed solo albums, she’s recorded in collaboration with pianist Guillermo Klein and legendary drummer Paul Motian, and as part of the vocal trio Tillery with Becca Stevens and Gretchen Parlato.

It was through listening to Tillery that OJM co-musical director Pedro Guedes was inspired to invite Martin to collaborate. “Those three voices really got my attention,” Guedes recalls. “I knew Rebecca was not only a great singer but a great songwriter as well, and she also has a very special approach to the American Songbook. This combination of factors led me to make the call to ask her to work with us.”

Through the orchestra’s previous collaborations with a wide range of stellar jazz artists – an impressive list that includes Maria Schneider, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Carla Bley, Lee Konitz, Fred Hersch, Joshua Redman and Dee Dee Bridgewater, among many others – Martin recognized a large ensemble nimble enough to maneuver like a small group.

“Their work had the feeling of a small band to me,” Martin says. “It wasn’t grandiose, as if I had to put on a gown and walk out in front of an orchestra. It reminded me of my formative experiences in New York City, where there was deep listening and collaboration.”

“Rebecca’s original music is very intimate,” Guedes says. “It could seem like a challenge to bring out that intimacy within a big band context. But it ended up being really natural.”

A key component of that dynamic is Martin’s long personal and professional history with Larry Grenadier (Brad Mehldau, John Scofield). Over the course of 25 years together, the two have developed a stunningly attuned musical relationship, telepathic and intricate. “It’s a unique music connection,” Grenadier describes. “Because of the time spent on and off the bandstand with Rebecca over the years, we have the ultimate level of communication.”

Though the album After Midnight was recorded in the early weeks of 2020, long before anyone realized what that year had in store, the song reflects the cautious optimism that greets its release. It’s also a suggestion of the tone of the music, which seems to dwell in the twilit, liminal spaces late at night or just before dawn. Originally recorded in 2008 for Martin’s album The Growing Season, the title track After Midnight poetically depicts her brother’s wartime experience in Iraq.

“That song put me in mind of a [soldier] who comes home from a far away country, feeling at odds with being both war torn and thrust back into the comfort of their daily routine before they left and after they return,” says Guedes, who provided the song’s arrangement. 

The OJM’s empathic touch can be heard from the album’s outset, as soft, shimmering colors usher in Martin’s “The Space in a Song to Think” – a title that could also serve as a guiding mantra for the album’s lush atmospheres. The Orquestra seems to weave through a path carved by Grenadier’s bass on “In the Nick of Time (State of the Union),” a tune the couple co-wrote for their 2013 collaboration Twain

Working with the Argentine pianist/composer Guillermo Klein on 2017’s The Upstate Project was “a bucket list collaboration,” according to Martin, and Klein continues the partnership by contributing a pair of arrangements to After Midnight. Beginning simply with Martin singing over gently strummed guitar, Martin’s rueful “Don’t Mean a Thing At All” soon becomes swathed in kaleidoscopic colors; Guedes calls Klein’s bustling, metropolitan approach to Billy Strayhorn’s classic “Lush Life” a masterpiece – the arrangement reflects not the usual last-call bitterness but the heady rush of ceaseless urban living.

Sadly still relevant, the Depression-era “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” is given an achingly slow tempo, as if the narrator is muttering to herself with little hope of receiving the asked for assistance. It’s followed by the tender, swaying “Kentucky Babe,” a vintage lullaby that Martin discovered through singer Maxine Sullivan’s version. Charles Mingus’ “Portrait” feels woozy, as if overwhelmed to the point of dizziness by the subject’s elusive beauty. Accompanied by moaning baritone sax, Martin sings the rarely included opening verse of “Willow Weep for Me” before settling into a lovely rendition of the familiar classic.

 “All Day Long She Wrote” is a poetic new Martin song about the creative urge, provided compassionate accompaniment via an arrangement by OJM pianist and co-director Carlos Azevedo. The album closes with a dream-like “Joey,” an early and oft-revisited song co-written by Martin’s Once Blue collaborator Jesse Harris.

The album was recorded and mixed by Mário Barreiros, whose masterful work in the studio Martin praises.  “When we started the session, we had some trouble finding the right microphone for my voice with such a large group. During an early break, Mario set out into the city and returned with a ribbon mic borrowed from a friend. It made a world of difference. That effort and care made it clear to me that he was going to be a special engineer who would capture the performances perfectly – and he did!”

After Midnight is a gorgeous example of deep listening and sympathetic collaboration, illuminating profoundly emotional songs in vibrant shades. It’s a lovely reflection of the varied personalities that crafted it as well as the beautiful locale where it was recorded. “I find the city of Matosinhos, Portugal, to have a similar feeling to the orchestra,” Martin muses. “It’s familiar, earthy and approachable. I loved being able to meander from my hotel room to the studio and sit on the corner along the way with elders drinking their cappuccino and discussing their daily routines. It’s a magical place, a city that has maintained its culture and a slowless that is hard to find these days. It’s in part why I always feel so welcome there.” 

For more information, contact:   Patrice Fehlen, patrice@septembergurl.com 

Rebecca Martin is Director of Community Partnerships at Riverkeeper

During the day, Rebecca Martin works with community partners to protect the Hudson River watershed and drinking water supplies.

New Recording of Originals and Standards by Rebecca Martin with Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos (Portugal)

A new recording of Rebecca Martin’s original music and standards (and featuring Larry Grenadier on bass) was recorded with the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos in Porto, Portugal in January 2020.  It is currently being mixed.

More information shortly.

Beyond Music: Rebecca Martin Tackles Drinking Water, Plastic Pollution and Community Issues.

Rebecca Martin with Riverkeeper’s Captain John Lipscomb at Lock 4 patrolling the Mohawk River, one of the largest tributaries of the Hudson River Photo credit: Dan Shapley

For the past couple of years, Rebecca Martin as an organizer and advocate has split her time between KingstonCitizens.org (as founder and lead organizer), Riverkeeper (where she was promoted to Campaign Manager for the Water Quality Program led by director Dan Shapley) and most recently hired by the formidable Judith Enck, senior advisor at the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. Appointed by President Obama, Enck served as the Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overseeing environmental protection in NY, NJ, eight Indian Nations, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. Working with a staff of 800 and managing a $700 million budget, she secured a number of environmental accomplishments during her tenure at the EPA.

Rebecca Martin joins Judith Enck at Beyond Plastics.

Rebecca will join Judith and her team at Beyond Plastics in September, a nationwide project based at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont, that pairs the wisdom and experience of environmental policy experts with the energy and creativity of college students to build a vibrant and effective anti-plastics movement. Their mission is to “end plastic pollution by being a catalyst for change at every level of our society. We use our deep policy and advocacy expertise to build a well-informed, effective movement seeking to achieve the institutional, economic, and societal changes needed to save our planet, and ourselves, from the plastic pollution crisis.”

Music in 2020

Rebecca continues to make music, and in January of 2020, she will team up again with Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos (OJM) in Lisbon, Portugal this time to record a set of standards with the bassist Larry Grenadier.

Rebecca Martin performs LUSH LIFE (the arrangement written for her by Guillermo Klein) with OJM.

Martin and Grenadier will also perform a special duo concert at the Wiener Konzerthaus Mozart Hall in Vienna, Austria on January 17th.

To learn more, visit:

www.rebeccamartin.com
www.riverkeeper.org
www.kingstoncitizens.org
www.beyondplastics.org

Once Blue (Rebecca Martin and Jesse Harris) Live at the Handlebar from 1996 Available on iTunes.

                           Click on image to purchase on iTunes

Once Blue is a bit of a long ago dream. Some 25 years ago I came to New York City from the state of Maine, landing in the Lower Eastside of Manhattan with the songwriter Jesse Harris and a young Ben Street, Kurt Rosenwinkelkel and Jim Black. Later, Kenny Wolleson, Steve Cardenas and Bill Dobrow would join us. It was a vibrant time for songwriting, and a fortunate start for us in the city.

What you are about to hear is a 22 year old recording of a live board mix at the height of our music making. We were a very young band on the road, spending much of our time touring the country to open for popular acts that included Lisa Loeb, Shawn Colvin, Squeeze, Emmylou Harris and others. Rolling into the Handlebar in South Carolina on January 19th, 1996 for our own concert was a refreshing and creative respite.

I was happy to find this performance of our group tucked away in a box for decades. Long before social media, music relied on miles and miles of performances in order to be heard. Although Once Blue was an influential band in New York City in the early 90’s, there isn’t anything available that has captured who we were as a live band which was one of our strengths. I’m pleased to be able to share this with you. It is my wish that you will enjoy our collaboration from long ago.

Rebecca Martin
May, 2018
Kingston, NY

NOW ON VINYL! “Thoroughfare” by Rebecca Martin

“On her album, I painted a picture in my mind of how I hear these great songs, a picture so vivid and sharp in color and detail. Voice as instrument, it must be a harp. Song as tree, it must be an oak. Band as players, gardeners of sound and texture.  Thoroughfare…plays in my car every time I head home from London in the night.” – Chris Difford of Squeeze

“…Martin’s sound is literally impossible to categorize. Through her voice, she makes every song a tapestry of word and sound that captures the subtlest of emotions and reveals observations of life that many of us miss in our daily trek….Rebecca Martin is indeed an artist that stands alone, both as a singer and as a compassionate human being.”   John Schoenberger, AAA Track.  From “The Independence of Rebecca Martin”   READ

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Rebecca Martin’s first solo recording “Thoroughfare” (1998) is now available on vinyl!   To celebrate the upcoming Japanese release 0n Disk Union (February 21st),  there are a limited number of signed copies available to purchase ($40 + shipping/handling costs).

Featuring:

Rebecca Martin – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Steve Cardenas – Electric and Acoustic Guitar
Larry Grenadier – Acoustic and Electric Bass
Kenny Wolleson – Drums, Percussion, Harmonium, Marimba, Vibraphone




Side – A

  1. Goodbye My Love  (Harris)    LISTEN
  2. Your Arms Around Me Now (Martin/Harris)
  3. Thoroughfare (Martin/Harris)
  4. Arthur (Martin)    LISTEN
  5. Empty Hands (Martin)

Side – B

  1. All Day Long I’ve Been Crying  (Harris)
  2. 4th and Cornelia (Martin/Moore)
  3. Joey (Martin/Harris)
  4. At Different Times (Sexsmith)
  5. The Red Wall (Martin/Harris)

Questions? Please contact rebecca@larreccamusic.com

Rebecca Martin with the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos in Portugal and Spain

Rebecca Martin’s week as the guest artist with the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos in Portugal and Spain was a success with great reviews and the possibility of a recording and additional future concert dates.

Casa de Musica’s Video Interview of Rebecca Martin and Pedro Guedes

READ:  “Rebecca Martin: A Singer Who Sounds at Home”

Rebecca Martin honored by Catskill Waters in Woodstock, NY

“Catskill Waters, a watershed-related community art project, is holding a fundraiser on October 14 that artist Keiko Sono of Bearsville describes as a hybrid of “a multi-media art project, culinary bliss, and a social and economic experiment.” Expect artworks made of ice, gourmet dishes prepared the former owner of Chanterelle in Manhattan, and unusual in a fundraiser income for participating artists….A four-course dinner will be prepared by David Waltuck, owner of the legendary Chanterelle, which operated in Manhattan from 1979 to 2009. Although it was one of the city’s most expensive restaurants, Chanterelle was famous for the warm welcome Waltuck and his wife gave to guests. The New Yorker journalist Adam Gopnik described his meal there as “a three-hour engineered transcendence of the mundane.” Every six months, a new menu cover would be designed by folks including John Cage, Edward Albee and Francesco Clemente.  Several original menus from the Chanterelle collection will be exhibited. Sono has asked seven local artists to design menu covers, which will be on display and on sale.”

The banquet will honor Rebecca Martin, a founder of KingstonCitizens.org. Through the work of Martin and other activists, the proposal to build a bottling plant using Cooper Lake water was withdrawn.”

VIEW:  Catskill Waters Website for more information.

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