Home Profiles PIANIST, COMPOSER, PRODUCER, ORCHESTRATOR HECTOR MARTIGNON

PIANIST, COMPOSER, PRODUCER, ORCHESTRATOR HECTOR MARTIGNON

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New York-based, Colombian-born HECTOR MARTIGNON has composed, orchestrated, produced, performed, and recorded various genres, from Classical and Crossover to Jazz and World Music, to Rock and Pop. His five albums as a leader, two as co-leader (MOZART’S BLUE FANTASIES and BACH’S SECRET FILES), and his work on over a hundred albums, scores for five feature films, three Broadway Musicals, and multiple other projects showcase his wide-ranging area of expertise.
After several nominations as a sideman, two of his five solo CDs were nominated for a GRAMMY Award (Refugee, 2008, Second Chance, 2010). He arranged and performed parts of the score of Ang Lee’s OSCAR-nominated movie Eat, Drink, Man, Woman.
His first professional recording was at eighteen (Mikis Theodorakis’s “Canto General”), while one of the most recent was on legendary rock band Chicago’s latest production, the Latin-tinged “Exitos.”
He has written symphonic orchestrations, performed and recorded by the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, and compositions like Abre los Ojos, Cierra los Ojos, commissioned and premiered by the Musica De Camera String Orchestra at St Patrick’s Cathedral in April 2011. Hector is currently working on a first CD with his Bandagrande Big Band + String Quartet as well as an album with selections out of a series of seven solo piano recitals at the Ludwigsburg University of Education (Germany), where he conducts a “compact seminar” on Classic Music-based improvisation every November.
As a sideman, he has toured the world with such greats as Paquito D’Rivera, Ray Barretto, Gato Barbieri, Steve Turre, Don Byron, and Tito Puente and was featured pianist with Max Roach’s PROJECT AMERICA at 92 St Y.
His joy of teaching has made him a guest lecturer and performance teacher in music faculties and academies in several countries, including Europe, Japan, and North and South America. Hector also wrote an instructional book on Latin piano, commissioned and published by Hal Leonard, the SALSA PIANO BOOK.
His interest in varied musical genres has constantly enriched Martignon’s abilities as a pianist. He paid for his classical piano and composition studies at the prestigious Freiburger Musikhochschule in Germany by performing with the best Afro-Cuban and Brazilian bands of Europe, backing stars like Celia Cruz and Ismael Quintana on their European tours, and recording with Tata Güiness and Arturo Sandoval. At the same time, he was attending seminars on contemporary composition with masters like Gyorgi Ligeti, Luigi Nono, and Karl Heinz Stockhausen. He also performed classical music in recitals and concerts in Germany, Italy, and his native Colombia, specializing in Chopin, Bach, and Debussy.
One of his latest endeavors has been a Jazz-Classical crossover project, co-lead with star virtuoso trumpeter Joe Burgstaller, in which the music of the classics, from Bach to Ellington, is re-created in a chamber-jazz setting, to be enjoyed on their two releases, “Mozart’s Blue Fantasies” and “Bach’s Secret Files.”
Living in Brazil for a one-year love affair with that country and its music, Martignon soon became a studio musician and worked for star producer Carlinhos Brown. Since relocating to New York City, Martignon has been one of the most sought-after pianists on the Latin jazz scene. He’s toured North and South America, Europe, and Asia with the bands of Mongo Santamaría, Gato Barbieri, Steve Turre, and Don Byron, who had him recorded in his latest CD. He was featured pianist with the bands of Tito Puente, Mario Bauzá, Chico O’Farrill, Paquito D’Rivera, and Max Roach in his “Project America.” Most notably, Martignon was the pianist for the late Ray Barretto’s various ensembles. During his eight-year association with Barretto, his contributions as pianist, arranger, and composer were fundamental in shaping the sound of New World Spirit Sextet.
One of his last collaborations with Barretto, “My Summertime,” was a favorite nominee for a Grammy award. Martignon’s versatility has also made him highly active in the film and television industries. Besides playing all piano parts, he arranged and produced many parts of the score for the Oscar-nominated film “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” by Ang Lee and performed the piano and keyboard parts for many movie scores (i.e., “Gloria” and “Relativity“). He is the composer of the original music of two feature films, one of which, “Septimo Cielo,” won international awards. He also collaborated in the production of many Broadway musicals (“Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” Paul Simon’s “The Capeman,” and “Selena Forever“) as conductor, arranger, and co-composer. In the fall of 2003, Hector visited Slovenia and Russia to collaborate with singer-songwriter Vitaly Osmsçko’s first symphonic CD. The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra recorded in Moscow the orchestrations written by Hector.
His record is no less impressive as a composer, producer, and arranger of TV and radio music. In 2001 he landed two spots for HBO Latino and one for Coca-Cola. In 1998 Martignon performed with his quartet “Foreign Affair” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s famed annual festival “The Next Wave” on a triple bill with Tito Puente’s “Top Percussion” and Don Byron’s “Music for six Musicians.” It was a turning point for him and his ensemble, which evolved from the strictly acoustic trio sound of the first two CDs to a more eclectic and electric quartet sound. The new configuration that evolved from that memorable concert started a series of concerts and recordings with guitarist Mark Whitfield, Cameroonian bassist Richard Bona, and Cuban drummer Horacio “Negro” Hernández. This quartet performed and recorded live during a weeklong stint at New York’s famous Birdland. The group has also performed on BET television festivals, at jazz clubs in Manhattan, and made various appearances in clubs and open-air festivals in his native Colombia and Europe. Martignon never fails to surprise, challenge and delight us. Stay tuned and get involved in this affair.

DISCOGRAPHY AS A LEADER

Hector Martignon – Portrait in White and Black (1996)
Hector Martignon Trio – The Foreign Affair (1998)
Hector Martignon – Refugee (2007)
Hector Martignon – Second Chance (2010)
Hector Martignon’s Banda Grande – The Big Band Theory (2016)

SELECTED DISCOGRAPHY AS A SIDEMAN

Ray Barretto & New World Spirit – My Summertime (1998)
Mozart’s Blue Dreams and Other Crossover Fantasies (2009)
Bach’s Secret Files and Crossover Fantasies (2011)
Tomas Peña
A graduate of Empire State College with a dual major in journalism and Latin American studies, Editor-in-Chief Tomas Peña has spent years applying his knowledge and writing skills to the promotion of great musicians. A specialist in the crossroads between jazz and Latin music, Peña has written extensively on the subject. His writing appears on Latin Jazz Network; Chamber Music America magazine and numerous other publications.

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