b. 17 August 1970, DeLand, Florida, USA. Raised in Florida and St. Louis, where his father played the violin with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and his mother was a violin teacher, he was taught violin at a very early age. At the age of three, he also began playing piano and within two years was able also to read and write musical notation and had begun to compose. When he was aged 13 he showed an interest in jazz and his father, recognizing his own limitations, asked the advice of a visitor who had come to perform with the symphony orchestra. This was Wynton Marsalis and thus began a long-term association. In the late 80s, Martin attended the Juilliard School of Music and Florida State University, studying classical music. Meanwhile, he was pursuing his jazz piano interests, as he told JazzReview’s Mike Brannon, by continuing his childhood listening to jazz on record, citing McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, and Bill Evans.
Later, Martin moved to Marsalis’ home town, New Orleans, and began further ongoing musical relationships with, among others, Marlon Jordan, Mark Whitfield, Johnny Griffin, and Nicholas Payton and Wessell Anderson. In the course of the next few years, Martin worked with artists such as Terence Blanchard and Roy Hargrove, and toured with singers Betty Carter and Dianne Reeves, and also appeared with Marsalis’ Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Most significant, in terms of spreading word of this rising star of jazz piano, were two albums made under Joshua Redman’s leadership that gained rave reviews in the international jazz press, Spirit Of The Moment Live At The Village Vanguard, 1995, and the following year’s Freedom In The Groove. In Redman’s band was another New Orleans musician, drummer Brian Blade, and Martin has asserted how the work of the young post-bop musicians in the Crescent City has helped him define and develop his own style. Martin also played on some tracks on Rodney Whitaker’s 1996 Hidden Kingdom. With Whitaker, Ron Blake (saxophone), and Greg Hutchinson (drums), Martin is also a member of the cooperative group, 4-Sight. International tours in the late 90s helped build Martin’s reputation as did his own-name recording debut, which came with Something Unexpected, a live recording from Jazz At the Bistro in St. Louis, where he was joined by Payton, Brice Winston (tenor saxophone), Reginald Veal (bass), and Adonis Rose (drums). A superb technician, Martin is much more besides, bringing to his playing and to his compositions, a vibrancy and awareness of the developments in jazz. Through his playing, the continuation of the great tradition of jazz piano is assured.