Monday, January 16, 2017

James Martin - Something's Gotta Give (2017)

BY JAY MAZZA / thevinyldistrict

I have been seeing Martin since his earliest days on stages in New Orleans with Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and Orleans Avenue when the musicians were still in high school. His technique on the horn, his vocal ability, and his sense of stagecraft have grown as he has developed into a fully realized musician over the course of those fifteen years.

Now with the release of Something’s Gotta Give, his sophomore effort, Martin has come into his own as a songwriter and bandleader. The new album features all original compositions with the exception of two cuts that both reflect his deep roots in New Orleans.

The band on the album—Walt Lundy on drums, Devon Taylor on tuba, and John Marcey on guitar—is a well-honed unit due to playing regular gigs over the past year or so. Prior to forming his own band, Martin spent seven years with Orleans Avenue, much of it on the road, before deciding to focus on his solo career. While developing his own sound, he played with trombonist Glen David Andrews and other musicians including New Orleans R&B legend Ernie Vincent.

Martin is eagerly awaiting his return to the Maple Leaf Bar on January 28 for his album release party because it was where he made his stage debut fifteen years ago this month.

The tunes on the album represent the broad experiences that define the musician’s life and the artists he has worked with including other local legends like Ivan Neville and James Rivers. There is heavy funk that wouldn’t be out of place on a recording by Neville and jazz sax work that will make Rivers proud.

The choice of covers is significant relative to Martin’s influences. He arranges “Too Much Blues,” a song that was part of James Booker’s repertoire, for saxophone and tackles Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights.” In a testament to his approach, both of these piano-based tunes are recorded sans piano allowing his arrangements to shine.

Besides the strong production values on the album and the musicianship of his band, Martin’s songwriting is one of the album’s biggest strengths. His first album was mostly covers, for Something’s Gotta Give, the focus is on his original material. I strongly recommend getting your copy and checking it out live.

1. Same Old Same Old 5:48
2. Maintain Composure 5:23
3. Something's Gotta Give 5:45
4. Another You 5:06
5. Southern Nights 6:20
6. End of the Line 3:12
7. Too Much Blues 4:08
8. Last Call 3:29