In one of his many recordings, John Di Martino (US) uses a quote from the Japanese philosopher Daisaku Ikeda:
“We often use the expression, “strike a chord in one's heart”. The heart is like an instrument. It is the richness of the heart that determines the richness of our life experiences.”
Isn't that wonderful to do? To give a wonderful quote like this one to the listener, next to the music? In the second week of April 2019 I had the huge honor and pleasure to meet John Di Martino twice! First moment was a concert invitation by Joris Teepe. In the “Oosterpoort” in Groningen I was able to listen to the John Di Martino trio, feat. John Di Martino on piano, Joris Teepe on double bass and Eric Allen on drums. What a fantastic concert was that! Wonderul music presented by wonderful musicians! What a gift!
Two days later I had the pleasure, and again: honor, to meet and interview John Di Martino! Of course, the “di” in the middle of his name shows Italian roots. But John Di Martino is a New York citizen, home in many styles and genres. First of all he is a jazz pianist, composer, arranger, producer and educator with an extremely busy schedule. When you are able to listen to him, please visit his concerts, you will really soon be able to discover, that he is a master and you can't just leave without getting sprinkled by his magical sound feathers!
John Di Martino was a long time member of Puerto Rican conga drummer and bandleader Ray Baretto's “New World Spirit” and also Bobby Sanabria's musical universe, who is an American drummer and percussionist of Puerto Rican descent, specialized in Jazz and Latin Jazz. When you listen to John Di Martino's way of playing the piano, you very soon get attached to his life long love to Latin Jazz. Paquito D'Rivera is around, Machito too and all the wonderful composers like Chopin, Thelonious Monk, Billy Strayhorn, Bela Bartok, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Duke Ellington and Mongo Santamaria, just to mention these ones.
John Di Martino is comfortable with bop as he is with Afro-Cuban rhythms and salsa. He recorded with Nat King Cole's brother Freddy Cole, Carlos “Potato” Valdes, Janis Siegel, Lonnie Plaxico, Ray Drummond, Lewis Nash, Ugonna Okegwo, Ray Baretto, Chuck Redd, Houston Person, Hans Glawischnig, Bobby Sanabria, he got many times Grammy nominations, he studied with Lennie Tristano and Don Sebesky.
While he was inspired in young age by Frank Zappa's album “Hot Rats”, today he mostly arranges almost everything around him into Cuban-Afro sounds. And when you listen to all his oeuvre, you might discover even Zappa in there too! Please enjoy my masterclass with John Di Martino!
Cover picture source: John di Martino.