Modern Drummer: Pedrito Martinez by Jeff Porter

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Modern Drummer: Pedrito Martinez

January 2014 Issue
Story by Jeff Porter, Photos (on site) by Paul La Raia

It might seem surprising to find a musician who’s in constant
demand with the world’s top artists gigging several nights
weekly in a narrow, no-cover-charge restaurant. But that’s
precisely the tack that burgeoning percussion star Pedro
“Pedrito” Martinez wisely chose. Despite a date book fi lled with
high-profi le sideman sessions, the Cuban-born rhythm master/
vocalist has held firm in his belief that creating and evolving his
own great band is best done the old-fashioned way.
Guantanamera, an unassuming Cuban eatery on 8th Avenue in
midtown Manhattan, became a live workshop, an incubator for Martinez’s
vision. While casual diners stroll in for the heaping platters of pollo asado,
music icons flock over to see what the buzz is all about. The gig is ongoing,
but perhaps not for long. One devoted repeat patron is Steve Gadd, who
eventually produced the Pedrito Martinez Group’s self-titled debut,
released this past October on Motéma records.
It’s all been worth the wait. The PMG delivers an uplifting, ecstatically
grooving blend of Afro-Cuban elements both modern and folkloric, plus
jazz, funk, R&B, blues, and pop. In its stripped-down format, the quartet
manages a remarkable diversity of textures through the playful mastery of
shifting and superimposed rhythms, all played with an uncanny knack for
tight ESP-like improvisation.
Catalyzing the band is the charismatic, loose-limbed Martinez, taking
flight with his soaring, passionate vocals while grooving on congas,
multiple batá drums, cajon, and assorted percussion. Jhair Sala, a former
student of Pedrito’s, masterfully handles bongos, cowbell, and assorted percussion..

View the full article and interview with Pedrito here!

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