Press Kit

Reviews

Fresh Air Reviews:

All About Jazz 2014

Guitarist Vince Lewis and vocalist Barbara Martin, longtime friends and musicians, join forces for an intimate trio recording of staid standards and compelling originals on Fresh Air. Joined by bassist Paul Langosch, who lends a solid and unobtrusive foundation, Lewis and Martin deliver a program that is as well-crafted as it is spontaneous and crisply presented..

Lewis is an accomplished and precise guitarist, using all five right-hand fingers, eschewing a plectrum. This method of playing frees the guitarist to employ bass and rhythm lines with playing a melody on the higher strings. Lewis uses his considerable skills to provide a seamless and complex carpet of sound over which Martin's sturdy high alto may slide and glide. On Wes Montgomery's "West Coast Blues," Martin trades the funk and grease for a more refined approach to swing as hard on the concert stage as the corner bar. The originals, "Fresh Air" and "Start of a Beautiful Song" exist homogeneously with the standards, complementing them with their "newness."

Martin shines brightly on "But Beautiful" and "The Nearness of You," demonstrating her peerless ballads chops. Lewis takes a solo shakes with a lovely "Like Someone in Love" playing with an understated lyricism. Where Joe Pass would have crammed every note he could have possibly played between the chords identifying the piece, Lewis chooses carefully, never sacrificing melody for technique. The Great American Songbook and the music it inspires remain a sturdy and durable corpus for creativity. That is what Vince Lewis and Barbara Martin prove with Fresh Air.

New Jersey Jazz Society, Joe Lang

After several years of performing together on occasion, guitarist VINCE LEWIS and singer/guitarist BARBARA MARTIN have finally made it into a recording studio, and the result is the delightful Fresh Air (Vinbara Music – 107).  They mix some original material with classics from the Great American Songbook, and add in as an opener Wes Montgomery’s "West Coast Blues.”  Lewis has come onto my radar during the last few years, and his nimble guitar artistry continues to impress.  Martin is a singer who effectively combines her natural feel for lyric interpretation with passionate vocalizing, resulting is convincing readings of each selection.  She also happens to be an interesting lyricist, whether setting words to her own melodies or those of Lewis.  This is a very personal recording that has the effect of making the listener feel that the musicians have directed their efforts directly to him or her.

Every Little Thing Reviews:

Joe Dobbs, Host of "Music from the Mountains" NPR

Barbara Martin is a Staunton, VA based singer / songwriter.  This
self-produced CD is almost all original material, and definitely
showcases her ability to tell a story through song. Martin has been a
regular on the play list of many Acoustic and Blues themed radio shows
across the country.  Her acoustic guitar style is the perfect
accompaniment for her strong and emotional vocals.

The opening track is the title tune "Every Little Thing.” This song
has a Reggae back beat behind uplifting lyrics with a positive life
message.  Martin has a gift of writing interesting chord progressions
that are definitely more than the average predictable ones usually
found in music of this type.  "I’m An Old Woman” is a bluesy account
of maturing and learning from life experiences. Her solid finger
picked accompaniment and solo guitar section is the perfect match to
the light hearted message.  "I Won’t Forget” is an emotional tribute
to her brother Denny, who was killed in the Vietnam War. Her lyrical
message is powerful and one shared by many families who lived through
that era of our history.

Other selections include "My Words,” "Into the Starry Night,” "Loves
Farewell,” "I Could Not Stop Loving You” and "Yes, Yes, Yes.”  There
is even a very interesting 5/4 treatment of "Emptying.”

Barbara Martin has a musical gift that is truly deserving of a wider
audience.  Her music has been featured many times on my "Music From
the Mountains” Public Radio broadcasts. It is a rare treat to hear
music that is written, sung and played so well by its author.

Eyes On The Horizon Reviews:

Vince Lewis, Guitar International

Staunton, VA based vocalist, guitarist and composer Barbara Martin covers a lot of musical ground well.  She has been an active Jazz and Blues Educator and performer for over 20 years.  Martin has appeared in concert at venues ranging from small recital halls and schools to The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

This CD is her first self produced release of primarily Jazz based selections.  Martin has assembled some of the finest musicians from the D.C area for this recording.  Chuck Redd was drummer and vibes player for the famed Charlie Byrd trio for over 20 years.  His brother, Robert Redd, is a fine pianist who was musical director for Kenny Rankin.  Other musicians here include Steve Wolf (bass), Mac Walter (guitar), Bruce Swaim (saxophone), Matt Finley (flugelhorn) and John Jensen (trombone.)

All of the selections with the exception of the title cut "Eyes on the Horizon” are Martin originals.  That selection was co-written with Joel Evans.  The opening track is a very pretty Bossa Nova "Since You’ve Been Here. "  Robert Redd plays a fine piano solo that fits perfectly with the relaxed mood of the tune.  "Too Late to Die Young” is a swinging blues with a bridge section that opens with Martin’s vocal over top of a solid walking bass line from Wolf.

"Eyes On The Horizon” has a solid chordal structure flowing under the haunting melody line.

Martin has a solid sense of how to creatively phrase vocally, and provides an always interesting approach to the melody on each song.  "Same Old World” is a light Samba that is the perfect vehicle for Robert Redd’s piano solo and Chuck Redd’s Latin percussion skills.

Other selections include "Taking A Chance,” "The Fire Burning In Me,” "One For Me,” "Blue Storm” and "Painting a Picture.”  There is also a solid Jazz Waltz titled "I’m OK” included in the set which features Chuck Redd on vibes and Walter on guitar.  Each tune is exceptionally well crafted and performed beautifully by Martin and this excellent group of players.

It is always a pleasure to introduce new artists to listeners who may not otherwise find them to sample.  Barbara Martin is an accomplished and versatile musician who definitely deserves a listen.  This is a highly recommended musical experience for fans of both instrumental and vocal Mainstream Jazz.


She’s OK
by Jim Newsom

It’s been fascinating to watch Barbara Martin’s artistic growth over the last seventeen years. The Staunton-based singer’s first album, A Matter of Time, revealed an intelligent songwriter whose voice was infused with a touch of the blues, juicing up the folksinger idiom with a refreshingly eclectic mix of styles and arrangements. Her second release, Between Black and White in 1996, borrowed its style from Mary Chapin Carpenter’s successful country-folk approach.

But A Different View, released in 1999, signaled a tilt in a more jazz-inflected direction, one that enabled Martin to find a satisfying niche of her own over the next decade, occasionally mixing standards with her own ever-more-mature compositions. With her eighth CD, Eyes on the Horizon, she moves a notch higher in the pantheon of jazz vocalists. Her voice has become lilting and uplifting, giving off an aura of happiness, similar in register and tone to that of Ella Fitzgerald. It’s a joy to hear.

The ten-song setlist is all originals, filled with a lyrical sophistication and playfulness that continues to unfold with each listening. The band includes some of the best players from the DC/Annapolis/Baltimore jazz scene, including veteran Charlie Byrd sideman Chuck Redd on drums and vibes, and his brother Robert on piano. Martin’s regular bassist Steve Wolf anchors the core trio but longtime collaborator Mac Walter, whose magnificent acoustic guitarwork is always a marvel to hear, appears in only a few places. This time out, Martin has chosen a more traditional piano trio motif with occasional horn accents.

"Since You’ve Been Here” kicks things off with a blissfully light-hearted celebration of the myriad ways that life changes when you let another person into your life. "Too Late to Die Young” takes a bluesy ride over Wolf’s walking bassline: "I want to be James Dean with insolent lips,” the singer intones, "but it’s too late to die young.” John Jensen’s boogie-woogie trombone solo accentuates Robert Redd’s muscular piano comping.

The title track is pure cocktail lounge—you can almost smell the cigar smoke wafting up from the back. The mood shifts to a playfully swinging samba on "Same Old World,” followed by "Taking a Chance,” a tune that starts off like a Vince Guaraldi theme for Charlie Brown before bouncing along on a smoothly melodic carpet of swing.

Martin gets slow and sultry on "The Fire Burning in Me.” Chuck Redd then picks up his mallets for some sweet vibraphonics on "I’m OK,” setting up Walter’s first appearance. The lyrics here define the tone of this record: "When life doesn’t follow my wish-it-would-be’s…I’m OK.” "One for Me” is a jaunty stroll through loneliness tempered with an optimistically hopeful tinge.

The last two cuts on the album accentuate Walter’s gorgeous guitar playing, reminding a longtime listener of previous Barbara Martin outings. In fact, "Blue Storm” originally appeared on Different View, and the arrangements are similar though this version feels gentler, reflecting the subtle shift that Martin’s vocal delivery has undergone in the intervening years.

The disc closes with its most beautiful song, "Painting a Picture,” a voice and guitar duet the two cowrote, built on James Taylor-esque chording and a wistfully yearning from-the-road lyric. It’s the perfect denouement to a pleasurable outing from one of Virginia’s finest.

Kaleidoscope Reviews:
Recording Magazine, 2007
http://recordingmag.com/Spotlight_0507.html

Music Connection, May 21, 2007
"Martin’s warm, natural vocal tone and her talented backup players on piano, sax and drums, infuse her original material with a quality that makes her songs sound classic, as opposed to derivative. ‘Ready for Love’ and the album’s title cut, a piano vocal entitled ‘Kaleidoscope,’ might evoke memories of Woody Allen soundtracks. We feel that film/TV music supervisors might find these tunes useful.”

Tis the Season Reviews:
Christmas Reviews.com, 2005
http://www.christmasreviews.com/wbarbaramartin.shtml

Touch the Sky Reviews:
"…Martin’s lyrics deserve notice. They are insightful, witty and intelligent without being snobbish. With songs like ‘Big Bad Wolf blue’ and ‘Funk Jungle,’ she could teach the art of metaphor to a high school English class.” Katy Hershberger, washingtonpost.com/mp3, July 13, 2004

"Mac Walter's solidly competent acoustic jazz/blues guitar work and Barbara Martin's vocal evoke memories of the innovative early recordings of Tuck and Patti. Martin contributes several compositions to the effort, most notably the bluesy ‘Big Bad Wolf’, ‘Existential Blues’, and ‘Funk Jungle’ where her vocal sits most comfortably. The duo's versions of such standards as ‘Them There Eyes’, the Irving Berlin classic ‘Blue Skies’, and an instrumental arrangement of ‘There Will Never Be Another You’ are also solid and merit a listen. What stands out most on this album, however, is Walter's facile and easy-going fretwork.” Chip O'Brien, Minor 7th

The Joy of Making Music
"Listen to ‘The Story of Love,’ one of a half dozen originals mixed in amidst blues and jazz standards on Barbara Martin & Mac Walter’s new CD, Touch the Sky, and you will be instantly hooked. It’s a song at once familiar, yet fresh, intelligent and engrossing. Barbara Martin has released four other CDs since 1993. Touch the Sky is her most stripped down outing to date, and it’s her finest, thanks in no small part to the guitar wizardry of her musical partner Mac Walter. He is quite simply an amazing picker.

Martin is a familiar face having come down from her home in Staunton many times in recent years for concerts, workshops, and programs on the history of jazz and blues in local schools. In a review of her first album, A Matter of Time, I wrote that she ‘is a very attractive singer, rootsy and bluesy one minute, sweet and tender the next.’ That description still applies.
Mac Walter is a master of the acoustic guitar, a role model to would-be players in his virtuosity on the instrument. Citing influences ranging from West Montgomery to Django Reinhardt to Frank Zappa, he is one of those rare musicians who can do it all while still retaining his own distinctive voice.

The new disc whets the appetite for Saturday’s live performance. It is an incredible showcase for the strengths these two possess, spotlighting the joy they obviously share when making music together. Their take on Irving Berlin’s 80-year old "Blue Skies” is so inventive that it sounds like a new song. Walter reminds me of blue grass/’new acoustic’ great Tony Rice in the fluidity and imagination of his playing, and his solo run through ‘There Will Never Be Another You’ would put a smile on Charlie Byrd’s face. Martin digs out her best blues chops on Sippie Wallace’s ‘You Got to Know How’ and her own ‘Big Bad Wolf Blues,’ and gives us humorous glimpses of everyday life on ‘Existential Blues’ and ‘Rise and Shine Angel.’

From the opening walking bass line, hot club licks and Ella-like scatting of ‘Them There Eyes’ to the set closing Maria Muldaur-meets-Michael Hedges treatment of Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Goin’ On,’ this is music to savor again and again. Saturday night’s concert is not one to be missed.” Jim Newsom, Porfolio Weekly, April 27, 2004

From Ragtime to Rock and Roll Reviews:
Parents Choice Foundation Silver Honor Award, Fall 2000
www.parents-choice.org/product.cfm?product_id=1619&StepNum=1&award=aw

"An edutaining musical American history lesson featuring Barbara Martin’s solid, clear vocals, riding the crest of fine arrangements, accompaniment and stellar production value. Nicely done!” John Wood, Kidzmusic.com

A Different View Reviews:
"…a songwriter with an unexpected gift for double entendre and sultry melody and a singer with a penchant for smoldering seduction.” Geoffrey Himes, Baltimore Sun, 2000

"Barbara Martin’s compact combo swings hard with Martin’s muted brass voice between Mac Walter’s bending and sliding steel strings.” Dirty Linen, 2000

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