I first heard clarinetist Pete Martinez about six years ago and was instantly impressed — his sound (from searing Ed Hall to tender, moody, sweet); his ensemble wisdom (he knew how to play well with others); his deep perceptions of the world around him; his delight in the obscure . . . I could go on. He shone on record sessions with Kevin Dorn and with Barbara Rosene, but I was waiting (politely, I hope) for Pete to make his own record date as a leader of a small band.
And it’s happening!
I was invited to Peter Karl’s very hospitable Brooklyn studio to watch and listen — which I did on April 20, 2011 — to Pete, trumpeter Simon Wettenhall, pianist Mark Shane, bassist Brian Nalepka, and drummer Kevin Dorn. They made wonderful music: including SHIM-ME-SHA-WABBLE, SINGING A VAGABOND SONG, SCHROEDER COMP (you’ll have to ask Pete about that, but it goes right back to RINGSIDE AT CONDON’S), CHERRY, YOU’RE MY EVERYTHING, THAT RHYTHM MAN, and YOU LET ME DOWN.
And the next day they finished the session, recording DIANE and other wonderful songs . . .
Recording studios, even ones as congenial as Peter’s, don’t always lend themselves to video-recording, so I contented myself with sitting on the red leather sofa (comfortable but entrapping), taking notes, listening to the witticisms, and taking photographs. Here are a few, with brief commentary:
Messrs. Martinez, Dorn, and Wettenhall, deeply considering.
The two faces of Pete.
Mike, meet Kevin.
The many mutes of Simon.
Accessorizing for Spring (a totally impromptu shot).
Studio tension — recording studios make musicians so unhappy and ill-at-ease! (Postscript: there are no pictures of Mark or Brian, not because they are any less photogenic, but because they were more usually sequestered in the piano booth or the bass booth.)