Andy Martin: Trombone Day Clinic


First thoughts:

        It’s always a pleasure to hear an artist of Mr. Martin’s caliber. Even amongst the Los Angeles studio greats, he sets a high standard with his outstanding mechanics and fundamentals, stylistic flexibility, and innovative use of the jazz vocabulary.

         I was most impressed with his performance of the ballad In a Sentimental Mood, which evoked remnants of the great J.J. Johnson in the first A section, and later evolved neatly into the flowing lines for which Andy is known so well. I greatly enjoyed the evolution and structure of his solo as he increased the rhythmic complexity, density of the solo, dynamics, and pitch to a glorious climax, then handed it over to a delightful chorus by the pianist.

Clinic Notes:

  • Born in Provo, Utah, then moved to Hayward, CA
  • His father taught at CSU, Long Beach, and was a jazz musician
  • Andy has two loves: Trombone and Baseball - he followed his brothers into music as a profession, and was working right out of high school
  • He briefly “attended” CSU, Long Beach, but mostly played in the big band, and combos.
  • His first gig was playing in the Dixieland Band at Disneyland.
  • He prepared for the Disneyland audition by studying Jack Teagarten
  • He studied with Roy Main and Charlie Schumacher
  • He developed his jazz vocabulary by memorizing transcribed jazz solos.
  • Was on the road with Lou Rawls, Paul Ahnka, and Poncho Sanchez
  • Learned “the business of music” while on the road with Paul Ahnka--“standing up for yourself” vs. “getting walked on” When Ahnka asked for a pay cut, they asked for a raise.
  • Plays with the big bands of Tom Kubis, Bill Holman, and Gordon Goodwin. Performs two days a week on Dancing with the Stars, and with the broadway show Wicked.
  • Fitness is essential for both the physical demands of playing the trombone, and keeping yourself mentally focused and centered.
  • Is a big fan of “cross-training”-- if he is playing a lot of loud and low passages on bass trombone, he will then practice soft high passages on the tenor trombone.
  • How to “develop a jazz vocabulary”--transcriptions! -- Listen to trombonists, but also to trumpet, sax and pianists. Take a lick, write it down in its original key (and put scale degrees above each pitch), then work it through the circle of fourths (not ascending chromatically).
  • A jazz vocabulary is essential--we develop it to get to the point of invention in our solos.
  • Trombonists to listen to: J.J. Johnson, Frank Rosolino, Carl Fontana. Also loves other instruments: Michael Brecker, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, Clifford Brown
  • The point of learning the changes and developing a jazz vocabulary it to be able to keep inventing ideas over many choruses without repeating-- this is exhibited in the playing of Stan Getz.
  • Do exercises like the Herbert L. Clarke studies in harmonic minor.
  • Regarding Slide Vibrato: The quicker the vibrato, and the quicker it starts creates a very “dated” sound-- a more warm and modern vibrato involves holding the pitch longer, then slowly warming it up with a more gentle vibrato.
  • Regarding Circular Breathing: Doesn’t do it, or have a need for it. Likes to develop ideas with increasing complexity. Listen to the playing of Sergei Nakariakov for circular breathing. It can be a detriment in studio playing (anecdote of player whose circular breathing came through in the booth).
  • Frank Rosolino- he believes Frank didn’t doodle tongue, just used the “natrual breaks” of the harmonic series, or “against the grain” to his advantage. Carl Fontana was the best example of doodle tonguing.
  • DrJ Observation: His slide technique is very impressive: He has a very quick, crisp, and “late” slide--he moves it at the last second and is very accurate with his slide technique, regardless of tempo/style. “Stick & Move”

Thanks to Dick Akright, Dave Ridge, and Dean Hubbard for putting this great event together!

Andy's album with Bill Liston is the second album of his that I have purchased, and features not only outstanding trombone playing, but also an exquisite interaction between some highly polished and inventive jazz musicians.  It was through this album that I first heard (and became a fan of) Bill Liston, and got an in depth exposure to John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton.   This is a *GREAT* album for any aspiring jazz musician, and all trombonists.


Andy Martin CDs