One of only a handful of musicians having been nominated several times for a GRAMMY as a sideman, for an OSCAR (as an arranger/pianist on the score of an Oscar-Nominated movie) and, most importantly, 2 GRAMMY nominations as a leader (2009, 2011) , HECTOR MARTIGNON has performed, recorded, composed, produced, and arranged music in myriad styles and genres for his own projects and for top musicians around the world. In order to steal a glimpse into the musical universe of this multitalented artist, one needs only to surrender to the music of his three solo CDs, “Portrait in White and Black”, “Foreign Affair” and his 2008 GRAMMY-nomoinated “Refugee” They are a metaphor of the diverse musical influences that have shaped his distinctive style as a performer, composer, and arranger, from Baroque polyphony to 21st century avant-garde, Balkan folklore to afro-cuban and -brazilian idioms. His first professional recording, completed at the age of 18, was of Mikis Theodorakis’s epic orchestral work “Canto General”. Since then he has appeared on hundreds of Jazz, Latin Jazz, and Pop albums.
Martignon’s abilities as a pianist have always been enriched by his interest in varied musical genres. He paid for his studies of classical piano and composition at the prestigious Freiburger Musikhochschule in Germany by performing with the best Afro-Cuban and Brazilian bands of Europe, backing stars like Celia Cruz and Ismael Quintana on their European tours, and recording with Tata Güiness and Arturo Sandoval. At the same time he was attending seminars of contemporary composition with masters like Gyorgi Ligetti, Luigi Nono and Karl Heinz Stockhausen. He also performed classical music in recitals and concerts in Germany, Italy and his native Colombia, specializing in Chopin, Bach and Debussy.
Living in Brazil for a one-year love affair with that country and its music, Martignon soon became a requested studio musician and worked for star producer Carlinhos Brown. Since relocating to New York City, Martignon has been one of the most sought-after pianists on the Latin jazz scene. He’s toured North and South America, Europe, and Asia with the bands of Mongo Santamaría, Gato Barbieri, Steve Turre and Don Byron, who had him record in his latest CD. He was featured pianist with the bands of Tito Puente, Mario Bauzá, Chico O’Farrill, Paquito D’Rivera, and Max Roach in his “Project America.” Most notably, Martignon was pianist for the late Ray Barretto’s various ensembles. During his eight-year association with Barretto, his contributions as pianist, arranger, and composer were fundamental in shaping the sound of the now famous New World Spirit Sextet.
One of his last collaborations with Barretto, “My Summertime,” was a favorite nominee for a Grammy award. Martignon’s versatility has also made him extremely active in the film and television industries. Besides playing all piano parts, he arranged and produced many parts of the score for the Oscar-nominated film “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” by Ang Lee and performed the piano and keyboard parts for many movie scores (i.e., “Gloria”, “Relativity”). He is composer of the original music of two feature films, one of which, “Septimo Cielo”, won international awards. He also collaborated in the production of many Broadway musicals (“Chronicle of a Death Foretold”, Paul Simon’s “The Capeman”, “Selena Forever”) as conductor, arranger, and co-composer. In the fall of 2003 Hector visited Slovenia and Russia to collaborate with singer-songwriter Vitaly Osmsçko’s first symphonic CD . The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra recorded in Moscow the orchestrations written by Hector.
As a composer, producer and arranger of TV and radio music his record is no less impressive. In 2001 he landed two spots for HBO Latino, and one for Coca Cola. HECTOR”S FOREIGN AFFAIR In 1998 Martignon performed with his quartet “Foreign Affair”at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s famed annual festival “The Next Wave” on a triple bill with Tito Puente’s “Top Percussion” and Don Byron’s “Music for six Musicians”. This proved to be a turning point for him and his ensemble, which evolved from the strictly acoustic trio sound of the first two CDs to a more eclectic and electric quartet sound. The new configuration that evolved from that memorable concert started a series of concerts and recordings, with guitarist Mark Whitfield, Cameroonian bassist Richard Bona and Cuban drummer Horacio “Negro” Hernández. This quartet performed and recorded live during a weeklong stint at New York’s famous Birdland. The group has also performed on BET television festivals, at jazz clubs in Manhattan, and made various appearances in clubs and open-air festivals in his native Colombia and in Europe. Martignon’s third solo project, to be released in the fall of 2003, is not only a reflection of the group’s new musical direction but also of his interaction with other world class musicians. Eddie Gomez, Jeff Watts, Mathew Garrison, John Benitez, Dafnis Prieto, Willard Dyson have all made their unique contribution to this, Martignon’s new sound of Jazz. Martignon never fails to surprise, challenge and delight us. Stay tuned and get involved in this affair.