RUSSELL TRUNK’S EXCLUSIVE MAGAZINE
|Title – Folk Songs, Jazz Journeys
Artist – Alex Martin
For those unaware, Folk Songs, Jazz Journeys, brings Alex Martins jazz arrangements of melodies from folk traditions that have most influenced him into conversation with original compositions that respond to those traditions.
Recorded mostly during the COVID-19 pandemic with twelve of the DC area’s finest musicians from a variety of world music backgrounds, the album is a personal journey through the music of the Atlantic world, taking the listener from West Africa, to Appalachia, to Northeast Brazil and Celtic Europe.
Joining Alexs trio (Ethan Foote and Tyler Sherman, bass; Keith Butler Jr., drums) on different tracks are vocalists Elin Melgarejo (Thievery Corporation), Maya Rogers, and Lynn Véronneau.
Guest instrumentalists include Uasuf Gueye on balafon, Jodi Beder (Zen for Primates) on cello, Deepak Shenoy on tabla, Bruno Lucini (Veronneau) on triangle, and Breton trumpeter Gaby Kerdoncuff.
1. Postal de Bata
Opening on the gentle hipsway of Postal de Bata and the simply beautiful yearn of Wayfaring Stranger (featuring Maya Rogers on vocal), next up is the thoughtful The Kudzu, the Dust, and You, the playful whispers of Viceversa (again with Maya on vocals), and then we get one of my own personal favorites, the upbeat swing of Asa Branca (featuring Elin Melgarejo on vocal, and then the majestically-cultured Triangulo (again with Melharejo).
Up next is the playful, yet jam-like construct of Rue Des Ursulines and the oh-so soft and sweet Le Temps Des Cerises (featuring Lynn Véronneau on vocal), and that is backed by the delightfully paced, Celtic-imbued I Once Loved a Lass, the album coming to a close on the Gaby Kerdoncuff trumpet-led Laride and the summer night, walking hand in hand with your loved one theme, Estamos Aqui para Colaborar.
Born in Brittany, the Celtic region of western France, raised mostly in rural North Carolina, and a traveler through Latin America now living in Prince Georges County, Maryland, Alex Martin seeks to create music that expresses his unique confluence of world cultures, a personal crossroads of the exotic and the familiar that he calls New World jazz.
He is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Texas at Austin who now views his music as his primary medium of storytelling.
Alex has released two previous albums: Nostalgia for Terra Incognita (2007), recorded in Washington, DC, with a Brazilian rhythm section and vocalist Lena Seikaly, and the more intimate trio recording Second Life (2010), recorded in North Carolina with bassist Ron Brendle and drummer Thomas Garner.
Alex has performed at venues around the DC area, from Blues Alley, Twins Jazz, Bethesda Blues & Jazz, and the National Gallery of Arts Jazz in the Garden series to the Avalon Theatre in Easton, Maryland.