New podcast episode now available! It's time to Discover, Learn, and Play a Key of Ab Major Melodic Workout!
May 3, 2022

Special Guest, John Di Martino

JazzPianoSkills welcomes John Di Martino, a first-call veteran of the New York City jazz scene, John is an acclaimed pianist, composer, arranger, producer, and educator.


Welcome to JazzPianoSkills, I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It’s time to Discover, Learn, and Play jazz piano! Today, you are in for a real treat! I am joined by John Di Martino

John Di Martino is a composer, arranger, jazz pianist, producer, and educator, based in New York City. He is described as a "shape-shifter", for his creativity across musical genres.
John composed the music for the documentary series: “A Glimpse Of Paradise"   (Prospera Medienproduktion) aired on Europe’s Arte Channel, and music for the video games: "Batman: The Telltale Series"

John Di Martino's latest CD’s are: “Passion Flower” (the music of Billy Strayhorn ), featuring Raul Midon, Eric Alexander, Boris Kozlov, and Lewis Nash, and: “Mazel” (Yiddish Songs, re-imagined ), with Janis Siegel and Cantor Daniel Krammer (https://mazelthealbum.com/)

John has recorded numerous CDs on the High Note and Venus Records (Japan) labels as a leader, and with Freddy Cole, Gloria Lynn, Houston Person, and Nicki Parrott.  John’s discography includes Grammy-nominated CD’S: ”Love" (Issac Delgado), "Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B"  and "Live And In Clave" (Bobby Sanabria). 

John Di Martino was a long time member of Ray Barretto's "New World Spirit",  He is a featured arranger and pianist on many of Ray Barretto's recordings including the grammy-nominated, CD: "Contact" and "Portraits In Jazz And Clave"  (featuring James Moody, Kenny Burrell, Joe Lovano, Steve Turre, and Eddie Gomez). 

Born in Philadelphia, Pa in 1959, John studied with Jimmy Amadie, Lennie Tristano, and Don Sebesky.

Discogs Artist Page

"John's soul and being come straight through to his music, the jazz world needs him! "
- Sheila Jordan (NEA Jazz Master)

"John Di Martino is one of my absolute personal favorite pianists of today. His music is an honest outpouring of light! "
- Benny Green (Jazz Pianist)

"John di Martino's middle name should be 'taste', for he conveys that quality in both solo and supportive roles, in jazz as well as Latin music."
- Ray Barretto (NEA Jazz Master)

"John DiMartino is a first-call veteran of the New York City jazz scene. This multi-recorded artist has long been a favorite of singers for his gigantic ears and intuitive, uncluttered playing—rare gifts that also enhance any instrumentalist he accompanies or arranges. DiMartino is a fine musician who sounds less interested in technical pyrotechnics than in mining a melody for its original intent—whether he's arranging or playing, he lets the essence of a song speak for itself. "
- Dr. Judith Schlesinger (All About Jazz)

Warm Regards,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music
JazzPianoSkills

AMDG

Transcript

Dr. Bob Lawrence  0:33  
Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today you are in for a real treat. I had a chance to sit down and talk with New York City based jazz pianist, composer, arranger, producer, and educator, John DiMartino. And if you are not familiar with John, then you are going to be blown away. John is considered a shape shifter for his creativity across musical genres. This is 100% true. All you have to do is peruse his discography, which you can easily do at his website, John de martino.com. And you will immediately see the incredible diversity of his playing, of his recordings, from traditional jazz to classical literature to various Latin and pop styles. John has recorded numerous CDs on the high note and Venus records labels as a leader and with such greats as Freddy Cole, Gloria Lynn, Houston person, and Nikki Porratt. John is a longtime member of Ray Barretto's New World Spirit. He is a featured arranger and pianist on many of res recordings including the Grammy-nominated CD contact and portraits and jazz and clubbing, featuring James Moody, Kenny Burrell, Joe Lovano, Steve Turre, and Eddie Gomez. John's latest CD is passionflower featuring the music of Billy Strayhorn, which you must absolutely check out. NEA jazz master Sheila Jordan says about John, John's soul, and being constrained through to his music. The jazz world needs him. File. Jazz piano great Benny Green says John DiMartino is one of my favorites, absolute personal favorite pianists lift today, his music is an honest outpouring of light, fantastic compliments, I can go on and on about the accolades of John DiMartino. But let's get on with the interview. You can listen to the audio version of this episode through any of the popular podcast directories such as iHeartRadio, Spotify, Apple, podcast, Google podcast, Amazon, music, Pandora, and on and on and on. Or you can go directly to the jazz panel skills podcast website, jazz piano skills podcast.com, where you can also watch the video of the show as well, which I strongly recommend doing. Now. It is my great pleasure and honor to welcome to jazz piano skills. Mr. John DeMartino. John Demartini, DeMartino. Man, I can't even believe I'm sitting here looking at you, man. You are like, you're like I'm gonna tell you I'm gonna put this in perspective. I was talking to my boys last night. And I was telling them that you were coming on jazz piano skills. And you know, my boys are in high school, junior high school. I got another I got another son out there. And in Newark, New Jersey playing bass. Yeah. And so. So anyway, I was talking to my boys, I was telling them that you were coming on. And of course, they're all in the they're all in the sport. So they don't they don't know anything about music. And they go well, who is who is this guy? Dad? They're asking me who is this guy? I said, Well, let me put it in perspective because they're sports guys. So this is like, this is like the Michael Jordan of jazz piano. This is like Mickey this is like, this is like the Mickey Mantle of jazz piano. And they, they immediately got it. So man. So I am. I am thrilled that you are here. Thank you. Yeah, man. So listen, you know, I we could spend a lot of times I'm just going to tell listeners right away all the jazz panel skills listeners, they just need to go to your website, first of all, and if they want to hear you play, if they're not familiar with your plane, they want to hear you play in all the recordings that you have done or For the years and the musicians that you have performed and play with, they just need to go to your website and spend the day just going through that and listening. Right? So with that being, oh, yeah, there's man, there's

just, you know, I was listening. I was just listening to a lot of your stuff last night again. And I was just like, you know, speechless, you know, especially the jazz that we'll talk about this a little later to the jazz Mozart stuff that you did, man. Oh, my gosh, that was like, that's, that's crazy. Good. But anyway, I want to just turn the microphone over to you right now. And I want you to kind of share with all the jazz panel skills, listeners, your beginnings, your childhood, how you got into music, your influences, your education, your background, how did it all start for

John Di Martino  5:47  
you? Well, I think it starts with I have a brother who so but nine years older, and he was a theater person. So always in the house was theater music. So when I'm growing up, you know, I'm listening to West Side Story. And in fact, to this day, when I hear music on West Side Story, I have a real strong emotional reaction because I heard it as a child, but I remember all these great musicals like gypsy and even some beyond the pale stuff like Murad sides as a kid, I'm singing all these songs, singing Anthony Newley songs and stop the world to get off. And we're the green screen smelling the crowd you know, so So that was my first influence and my brother my older brother in college, he was gaming a classical flute player. So I think that turned him on to a lot of classes and he also introduced me to a lot of classical music, but wrote You know, like I still my favorite version of the cutting view is still eat our bigs you know, which is probably there's probably a lot more versions but I we played it nobody ever sounds the same to me. Like that's ingrained in me you know, whenever you hear but I fell in love with that version because you know, that piece has a lot of there's a lot of room is basically Roboto is a lot of room to interpret. Right. And then it's funny, I kind of came into jazz in a weird way. Kind of through Frank Zappa, through my brother, I kind of got into Frank Zappa, early Frank there. And, you know, he credited on the back to his LPs, all these great jazz musicians. I mean, even as a piece called Eric Eric, Eric golfing Memorial barbecue. He talked about Charles Mingus. So I started to check out jazz and it's 12 years old, that I really get beat with the plug for jazz at all. I really knew that I didn't quite understand everything yet. But I wanted to learn more about jazz. My mother, big jazz enthusiast, especially singers. So she was always feeding me singers records. You know, like Gloria Lynn, for example. And years later, I wasn't playing with Gloria, it was a big thrill for me to play the folks who live on the hill, because my mother used to play me that recording. And I had a couple older cousins that were really big jazz enthusiasts and they'd be feeding me records. It's funny, my first when I was 12 years old, I was playing violin. That was my first instrument. And I had gotten into I had learned some basic principles of blues, very, very, very primitive blues, you know, you know, very primitive blues. And that's actually my first experience with improvisation is playing the blues on the violin. And I also played the harmonica. Not chromatic, I never graduated to chromatic, but I played little blues harp. And it's funny, a little friend of mine, his name is Jonathan yetkin, we would jam together we take turns soloing in other word backup. And I got really interested starting to get the bug for jazz, and I wanted to learn about jazz, and more complicated harmony. And I remember at the time, he wasn't interested in that he wanted to stay in the in the blues. And long story short, we're both still in music. He wasn't moving to Nashville. And he plays a play for years with Leon Russell. And he's actually one of the one of the Nashville guys. Now he plays all the string instruments. And he's a session guy, too. We stayed in music, but we went went different ways, recently connected via Facebook. When I was a little kid, I had played some accordion but I vaguely remember that because I don't play it today. And I, when I was eight years old, I studied drums but I never really kept it up. So somehow, from the violin, you know, I would always run to the piano. And I think I was 15 years old. I started playing with the basically like a wedding band. It was very Almost situation. But I was learning. And I remember one of the musicians was kind of sloppy with his possessions. So he left all these fake books over, which had like every tune that I'm still playing to this day. And I didn't appreciate them as much as a kid, I see oh, that's a good to like, rip the page out, which, which I really wish I didn't he because he left these two volumes that I swear you have every job that I've ever needed. My whole life. kept those intact. I still have them tattered. So I feel like you're just presented to me.

I was 19 I got a scholarship to Berkeley. But there's a little period when I got a little regressive. I don't know why I didn't actually go for some reason.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  10:50  
And right. Well, you you grew up in Philadelphia.

John Di Martino  10:53  
Philly. Yeah, from Philadelphia. Yeah, that's right. But I feel like the track that leads to now, about 2425 I started doing the steady gig in Philly. That somehow hooked me up into Atlantic City. And then I was in Atlantic City for about, I had a house band gig at the Golden Nugget, which was really wanting to be my music school because he was, he was already it was already a thing of the past, but I was doing it. You basically had a house trio in a lounge. And every week, I was backing up somebody else, people that at that point were considered like husbands, but actually the people who wanted to study so I got to play with like, Billy Eckstein, Jack Sheldon, friend Warren went from the sublime to the ridiculous that some comedian to some amazing, a great singer from Chicago, Frank Rome. Really amazing singer. So I got so much experience. So it's funny, right? Still regret that I didn't get away from my home and go to music school just for the experience of getting around. But it seemed like my destiny kept pulling at me and that one that being my music school just on the job, practical training. And then I eventually moved. I moved to New York and ADA that was Atlantic City about for about six years. But I feel like all that practical experience, though was showbusiness II eight, it taught me not to be a snob about any genre of music and accept the challenge of anything that's thrown at you because really, to be completely musician should be embraced. Any concept that you have to deal with, it's all about being in contact. Yeah. You know,

Dr. Bob Lawrence  12:45  
right. Which, which, which you have done. I mean, no question about it. When you look at all the recordings, you know, from your Mozart to Beatles, that you name it, right? I mean, you've done it.

John Di Martino  12:56  
I'll tell you. When I was 15, I started playing. I also ran a time. I had some friends in high school that turned me on to Afro Cuban news. And I started a love affair with that. And so I liked living in salsa bands in Philadelphia as well. I was getting that indoctrination. Even though like I actually have an Italian American heritage, but I was I was really absorbing that. So years later, when I moved to New York, I started doing this funny gig. It's a classic ballroom was called the Rainbow Room is an American band in the Latin band. So I wanted to play in the lap band as well. And but there was some amazing musicians in the band at the time. The bass player that's in the original Mongo, Santa Maria, recovering as a heel, you might see great percussion, a great foodist animal, Mauricio Smith. So through doing that, I got into the Latin jazzy. So, you know, I wanted to play with vaporetto for about five years, but also a lot of people think of me as being exclusively that because at one time I did, you know,

Dr. Bob Lawrence  14:11  
right, right. So I'm curious you know, when you were back doing the when you started with the violin, were you at that time on violin when you're like listening to like Stephane Grappelli? Were you already like doing some of the jazz stuff with the violin?

Dan Haerle  14:27  
I think it developed more on the piano, but because I was falling in love with jazz, I remember going to the record store with my mom, and we're trying to find records with violinists and at that time, they were too many people, you know, great dance, right Steph underbelly? You know, basically joven 90 Who's generation of my grandfather, but you know, from Philadelphia, actually from South Philadelphia, right. Either Wednesday stuff Smith. Yeah. Where's many options? You know,

Dr. Bob Lawrence  14:57  
right. Yeah, it's It's fascinating, though, but don't you think, you know, as a pianist, right? I always find it instrument you know, to think instrumentally or to have that instrumental experience. Has that not helped your piano play in your

John Di Martino  15:13  
life? Right doing more and more string quartet writing, and I realized, you know, I produce a lot of projects for singers. And I'm about to do one with a gal from Austria, singer named Simoni. I've been recording with him for like, almost 20 years. And she wants to have this record is going to be a string quartet. But I realize I have a little knowledge already have the instruments, I think in terms of the instrument, you're marking the volumes. I feel like it's right, you know?

Dr. Bob Lawrence  15:44  
Yeah. Okay, so your mom was a big jazz or she loved the jazz vocalist. Yeah, that's, that's again, you know, learning tunes from from the vocal side, right?

John Di Martino  15:55  
Tell me that develop my computing skills. Because, you know, we spent hours at the Facebook, we go to the, you know, the number one Facebook that's got three twos per page, and she picked out on the hip twos, you know, this is a good two, let's do that one. So I had a really good repertoire. She's very young, you know, and I feel like my company skills somehow intuitively develop that way. Because as you do a company for singers, I love playing for singers.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  16:24  
Yeah, well, you know, something that sticks out about your plane. And we'll get we'll get into this a little bit more as well. Man, first of all, incredibly tasty, right? I mean, everything you play is so tasteful. It's unbelievable. It's, it's unstinking, believable, and that's why I kind of have a love-hate relationship with you. Because everything is so tasteful. But here's the other thing that really sticks out to me about your plane. Your ability to play space, blows me away. I love that. And also it is increased. And I want you to be able to talk about that here in a little bit. But your, your also your ability. It is obvious when you play the emphasis is on the music, and not you. And that's a huge statement, my friend. That's a huge statement. Because, you know, piano players, we tend to, we like to overplay right, we can very easily overplay, and all of a sudden, things get shifted around when we start overplaying and it becomes more about us than it does about the music. Right, you know, but I never ever in everything I ever listened of your plane. i It's never there. I mean, your space is there. It's all about the tune. And, you know, Dave McKenna, I heard Dave McCain interview one time. Isn't he phenomenal? Right. And I remember in an interview, individual interviewing kept referring to him as a jazz pianist. And he filed and he finally said, stop. He said, we stopped calling me a jazz pianist. And, you know, the interviewer was kinda like, yeah, right. And he, he said, Well, what should I call you? And I love this answer. Dave McKenna says, I'm a song play. I play song. Is that I mean, doesn't that say it? All? Right. It's about the music, right? It's about the tune. So. So okay, so let's talk a little bit about, you know, when you were a teenager, and you're starting to get you got bit like you said, you got bit by the jazz. Alright, so now you're a bit by the jazz bug, you're getting serious about learning how to play jazz piano. Talk to the jazz piano skills, listeners about some of the things that you did, at that point in time in your life as a beginner as at the beginning stage of your journey, right? To start getting your chops in shape. What kind of scale work did you do arpeggio work? What kind of voicing work did you do? Can you share with us a little bit about that? Well,

John Di Martino  19:21  
for me, the first theoretical thing I learned was just some theoretical principles of the blues are very simple, like 145 progression blues scale, right, which again, you know, is like it's theory derived after the fact that I'm sure the original blues players weren't thinking, Oh, this is a blue scale. This is a 145. In fact, I was on the road with Ray Beretta, I think you get insomnia, somewhere. Somewhere in France, and I was watching this German documentary that had with an assembled blank A lot of traditional blues artists like the real deal. These are the real guys. It's not exactly Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, but guys of that generation, and I'm listening to him play, and even the 12 bar blues, which is, in a sense, academic, you know, totally symmetrical proportion. They hate that, like, if the lyric wouldn't go a little longer, that might stay a little longer on one chord. And even their sense of time was a metronomic, if they want to return a little bit, they would do that. And it was interesting. So I realized a lot of this theory comes after the fact but you know, we need the theory because you need a way to understand it. So I I basically just got a little, you know, basically like one of those little charts of chords, and I started to play through the Facebook's, myself, you know. But how I got into like, much better Chord Voicing was, when I was 15, I started to study with legendary teacher in Philadelphia, Jimmy almudaina, he's no longer with us. And I highly recommend his system of five note voicing because it's how I learned. And it's called harmonic foundation for jazz and popular music, you can find this book online. So I started with that system. And it's not the only way to play but I feel like it's a good measurement to understand or the other way to approach and you know, he would have you Creek voicings with five mils, not repeating the notes. So you kind of understand the weight of every every note in the chord. And that's what started to get me into more sophisticated piano playing. He was also turning me on the piano is beautiful touch. Like I started to listen to George Shearing that is a great George Shearing solo record called my shit. And then touches this. I also started to listen I had a solo record of Al Haig was also beautiful touch. So I started to really get a sense of touch you know that Chopin as such, I did some classical study. But I have to confess I was never a consistent student with that, like, I have a lot of classical influence that people remark but it's more from eliciting and compositional. And because I actually love Right, right. I love a lot of music. And it's funny later on. I have many CDs on Japanese label of Venus. And they would basically give me projects and I have three of them are actually jazz adaptions of classical thinkers and Mozart CD. Here's a list that is a Chopin. The Chopin has George Razon

Dr. Bob Lawrence  22:46  
Oh, wow. Yeah, you know, you touched upon something that I think is very fascinating, too. I try to stress to students, you know, you talk about the touch, right? You like George Shearing, or maybe somebody's listening to a red garland? Way Red Garland? Right. And I try to tell students all the time, you know, just try to imitate, imitate that sound, imitate that touch and not even worry about the notes, right? Don't even worry about the notes you're playing. Whatever notes you're playing, imitate that. Imitate that sound or that touch. I think that's really I used to do that I used to as a kid, I used to sit there and pretend that I used to pretend that I got a call from Ray Brown that Oscar, Oscar was sick and him and Ed Thigpen were in Chicago, and they needed me to play and I said, Oh my gosh, I gotta I gotta try to sound like Oscar Pierce. And I'd sit there and I try to in my mom and dad's living. I tried to imitate that sound that touch.

John Di Martino  23:49  
To me that come to mind were exceptional, the most exceptional with movement of inner voices. And I think it's their beautiful touch that makes this available. It's like, if you're not playing with that touch at all that's wasted. And the folks I dig in about her hang Jones, especially, you know, listen to some of these arrangements of some of the spirituals, right? I'm sure there was a little increase on fat I'm sure that must have been peeking over his shoulder that will the church's exquisite, and the sense of the sense of subtleties exquisite the other person is sharing also amazing inner voices any other person is is Beloved's. You know, there's always a sense of count on line. It's like I feel like those three guys are really hearing. Instead of just a cluster of notes. I feel like they're really hearing each finger individually.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  24:49  
They're hearing voices. They're hearing voices. Yeah.

John Di Martino  24:54  
has an amazing touch. tended to play It was mostly with one hand. But one thing about it was the sound of the piano was so amazing. It didn't matter. You didn't miss anything.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  25:10  
Correct? Absolutely right on, spot on man. Spot on. So okay, well, you know, you mentioned bill, because I read something online where you you're like, like 19 or 18. And you went, you literally sat and watched Bill of

John Di Martino  25:25  
Oh, yeah, that was that was that was pretty amazing. I remember always being intrigued by his playing. It was later in my 20s that I really started to listen to interpretations, you know, the record that starts with the Israel. Yeah. And that's such an important record. It's funny when you watch the documentary, they had such an argument together, the trio that the record almost didn't come out. And it's, it's historical. And to me, that's like a watershed statement. Like I tell piano students, that's a record you need, as an important record, you need to settle because it's like the beginning. And that's a tremendous influence, even that approach the trio playing. It's a tremendous, it's a tremendous influence on where you were the music, you know,

Dr. Bob Lawrence  26:11  
right. Very innovative. Okay, so what about I also read? You studied with Lenny Tristano? Yes, yeah. So talk about that.

John Di Martino  26:22  
And I got really into, actually, I first fell in love with the playing of Nikolas. And then somebody said, actually was my teacher to me. And he said, Well, if you want to understand the coders, you need to check out Lenny to sign up. So I started to really get into Lenny from sunup, what was this short period where I was actually obsessed with that music, you go through different stages. And that's all I was listening to. That guy was listening. I want to warn Marsh, who was played without piano. And then I realized when listening to Bruce was piano because see how the piano fits in, you know, those guys, they kind of liked the freedom of not having the piano, you know, but I feel like I got something out of that linear dimension. Lenny's thing was he wanted you to and I did some of this. He wanted you to sing solos, sing them along with the record until you really match the feeling. I remember bringing in the first soul that I sang. And he said to me, it was really cold and soul actually, I think going to go to my head. And he said me okay, you got all the notes. He said, but I want more of the feelings that I want to hear something of the Soul of the Man. He said whatever the blank, I'll leave the experts remember one time I played I was blowing a willowy for me and he he really liked how I played and I remember I remember him. Just cheer me on and I remember what point grabbed my hand because I felt like I needed to be more serious and dedicated. He looked right at me, you know, he was blind. But he opened his eyes and he had like massive cataracts. So you just saw like there were no there was no pupil there was a little scared but I remember him looking right at me. But he wouldn't you know, the feeling was

like, what last year of his life even past but I feel grateful to have met him in his identity do the lesson with the CONUS and a couple of board Martian even that was so Mosca a couple times here the disciples.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  28:40  
Wow. So Don Sebesky.

John Di Martino  28:43  
Yes, you studied. Well, you know, I, I really enjoyed I did the class and some individual with him. And I got a lot out of that. And I really recommend a book. I think it's a good, it gives you a good foundation to get started, you know?

Dr. Bob Lawrence  29:02  
Yeah, yeah. Okay, so let's talk. Everybody talks about scales, scales, scales, right. People get into jazz. They get, they get introduced to the scales, they start going crazy practicing scales. How did you approach that? How do you how do you approach the end? Do you still practice scales? Do you still do the technique work like that? Talk to us about your scale work.

John Di Martino  29:26  
Okay. I'll tell you the truth. No, I don't play scales at all. Actually, at this point in my life, I feel like I feel bogged down and I'll actually have some muscular problems with them. The closest say, You know what I do for technique? I'll tell you what I do. I take a bebop line. And sometimes simply just like an eight part bebop line, you know, and what I'll do is oh, oh, I'll play it through the keys. And I played in a lot of different touches, you know, I might start actually playing it slowly, straight eighth notes actually needed. Like it was a classical way to. And then I'll play it first legato and then I played for staccato. And then I have another way of playing it kind of like this where I grabbed all the notes in a phrase together, yeah, you know, right. As they put it into, then I'll start to play with Swing is you know when should be played. And I gradually I kind of work. I'll start at the, let's see if I'm at 100 and dimensional, then I'll go to like 200. Today, I play a different tempos and different countries. And I'll take a tune like that through the keys. And I find I use that as an etude. And then sometimes they have little exercise for the weak fingers, you know, just, you know, you know, basically something like that, you know, but the actual scale. I mean, I'm not saying that you shouldn't play scales, but they're not good for me like the turning under the thumb. situation. Yes. Doesn't feel very good for me.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  31:14  
Yeah, you know, it's funny, it's funny, you say that I studied classical piano for a while with a pianist, Nina Lal Chuck, and, and Nina is from Russia. So she did her whole academic stuff, bachelor's, master's and doctorate at the Moscow Conservatory. So you know, real stick real sticklers for? For Tech? Right? Exactly. So it's interesting that you say about the film, because I was literally 2223 24 Right in there, when I started studying with her. And she, I played scales, and she stopped me immediately. And she said, this thumb under has to stop. She She made me read, regroup everything to where when I played, that she had me shift the hand over, she goes to hand has to move. There's no thumb. She's got she's gonna like there's no thumb under hand shifts

John Di Martino  32:14  
on Gotcha. That makes more sense.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  32:18  
Does that make more sense? So, so she would make me practice? Check this out Johnson, I'd have to play like the C major scale, I have to go. I'd go C D, E. And then I'd have to pick up my hand and move over and then put my thumb down on F and continue with

John Di Martino  32:34  
legato here. Yeah, exactly. Correct.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  32:37  
Correct. So it's fascinating. It's fascinating that you, you say that because she would concur with you 100. And so, I mean, I think that's, I think that's wonderful. And I will say it transformed my technique. Getting getting out of that foam under something

John Di Martino  32:52  
I explored a little bit too is this idea of rotation, you know, like, pianos, they knew he'd studied with the guy in DC less cars, I think, coming out of this Matteo. And so the idea is to get the rotation, the rotation of the wrist, you know, so your, your fingers are so involved in the work. You know, I studied a bit with Sophia rose off, it's actually I've seen a Barry Harris, solo concert, and barrier, so relaxed. He's all by himself, and he's playing this breakneck tempo. And he's like, he wasn't really straining himself to feel the time or do anything. And he was playing just like he would as if a rhythm section was there. In fact, you probably could record that and put the bass and drums on it. I said, Barry, Barry, do that. And he wrote down this name. So fyros off. I remember the most beautiful handwriting. I didn't say that. He wrote that down. He she said how she pronounces it and call her. And her whole thing was that you don't play the piano with your fingers that you're pushing off from your feet, the fingers, just the contact point, you know? Interesting. So she had a still around, but one of her portegies The teacher's name was John Kaminska. needs to get his American guy, you know, say his name. Right. So I spent some time with him. So I kind of studied that score a little bit, you know?

Dr. Bob Lawrence  34:32  
Yeah. Fascinating. So, so yeah, it's interesting that you don't, you know, practice scales. You know, I interviewed Bert Ligon was on jazz panel skills a couple months ago and and he said he didn't practice scales either, he said, but I do practice. He said, I do practice arpeggios with passing tones. Isn't that interesting? Isn't that right? An interesting way to say so. So anyway. Okay, so tune study, you mentioned that you had these fake books you had to. So how do you how do you sit down with a tune that you want to learn a tune that you want to add to your repertoire? How do you approach doing that? What are the steps that you go to go through to truly learn a tune?

John Di Martino  35:26  
Sure, because I'm doing that all the time. And pick I'm doing a lot of recording projects like, like, I just did a venues and project. Wow, really talented young singer, and he was Lucy Winders, and great band and Peter Washington and Willie Jones erielle and Dave Stryker. And actually, they were some obscure venues. And that I didn't know. So step one is, get the sheet music actually have this great. There's this great place in Las Vegas called Hollywood sheet music. And if I can't find it, okay, they they have they send you anything, they send you a PDF for, like, you know, 70 bucks, it's a great deal. So, wow, I like to look at the original sheet music and see what did the composer originally have? And sometimes it's beyond looking at the chord symbols, you really need to look at the piano music. Right? What were they really, because that gives you the full information. So I like to see first, what was the original idea of what it is? Then I think another place to go is to listen to great masters, you know, like whether it be Tommy Flanagan, and Jones, Red Garland? You know, they approach the twos, because it's important to get an idea of like, what's the tradition of how our jazz community approached it? Because there's certainly accepted ways to harmonize it to that. Everyone should know that if you go to a jam session, or somebody pull out the tune, like, Hey, you should be ready, that that's what that's going to be. Now there's a third way to look at it, which I eventually get to what's my personal relationship with the two and a half? What do I hear what really kind of works for me? And sometimes I spend a lot of time going back and forth. Like why do I really want to force that change? And I as I get older, right, I go back more to like, what the original color was like, How can I make that work? You know, what was the original? By? You know?

Dr. Bob Lawrence  37:34  
Yeah, again, the emphasis being placed on the two

John Di Martino  37:37  
Exactly. Yeah. What this brings out to Yeah, I never want to feel like as the next word was strong army, strong army men to or brutalizing in any way. Really? What is it really like, you know, it's funny, there was a tuner recently recorded I hadn't played before.

It's called up just because it's called totally blank, I guess recorded, but it was actually given to me. And it took me a minute to like, it took me a minute to accept

the good a dream of a dream, what's it called? Even a dream? To look it up? For TV venues and song? totally blank. Let's see if I go. Well, it's even a dream. I think it's called demon a dream.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  38:43  
But that's funny. But what's interesting is, are the are the lyrics running through your life? Yes, how? How important are lyrics? We'll talk about that. When you learn it. Well,

John Di Martino  38:59  
that's important too, because you want to look at I mean, I'm always preaching this to singers. That's number one, like sometimes, right? Yes, singers or whatever. They're selling love something or singers in general, they're so in love with the sound of their voice intervals that they're singing. But, you know, if you're not telling a story, that doesn't mean anything. Unless you decide we're going to take the route of virtuals like Bobby Fern and just throw that out the window. Yeah, you can do that. But if you would have you're dealing with the lyrics, you know, deal with, it's the most important thing, as far as you know, someone who really doesn't have a particularly great voice if they can, if they can make you feel the lyric and tell the story. It works. It works.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  39:46  
It absolutely works. Right. You know, I want to backtrack for a second. It's interesting when you're talking about some of the technique, approaches that you do in practicing and how really how fundamental the was technique that those approaches are. And, again, the emphasis on Isn't it funny how, as the older we get, and the more we mature as musician that we tend to want to run back to the starting line, you know, back to those funds back to the fundamentals back to the back to the beginnings because there's so crucial to continue to practice, right. It's like, it's like going into spring training. It's like going into spring training baseball and watching the best athletes in the world practicing fielding a ground ball, or make catching a pop up, right, you're going like, wait a minute, these guys should be way beyond this. No, they're not way beyond this, that they understand that that's the fundamentals of the gates.

John Di Martino  40:44  
Foundation. Yeah, I think that's a good point.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  40:48  
Yeah, it's fascinating that, that you that you approach it that way. Now. Okay. So then after how much with the tune study? Do you focus on? After you have the chord changes that a set changes? How much do you interject into that, then how much do you like, re harmonized or chord substitutions? How do you approach that,

John Di Martino  41:15  
you know, my, my personality is always there. I mean, sometimes I we envision something, you know, far from where it is, where it began. Its starting point. But I think, for me, that happens more if I adapt something totally different. Like, let's say it took a standard. And I re envisioning it, because I put sometimes in a present setting, and I revisited it. Right, so that writes new parameters to me, or I'm envisioning some rhythm that, you know, what I usually don't do, unless it just comes to me, I'm usually trying to, like, for me personally obscure it totally, like, you know, we are committed to the, we harmonize it to the point where it's totally different, but I have nothing against doing that. But it's plenty more coming from the other way. I'm more trying to look at what the essence of what it is, and see that, see what that suggests, you know, the other way, like, how much can I change it? You know, how can I can I can see you don't even recognize it? So I don't usually use that approach. I have nothing against that. I appreciate everybody's creativity.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  42:40  
Yeah, you know, I had a teacher that used to say to me all the time, whenever I would read, harmonize a tune and go crazy with it, he would always say, Look, if you want to if you want to play body and soul, play body and soul, but if you want to write a new tune, right, it

John Di Martino  42:55  
seems like some folks. I never like what's the word try? I like to see organically. What I hear. You know, I like what Hindemith said in his composition book. He said, You should only write what you hear, you know, like Nazi it's funny. This quote is on the back of his he gets gets as you burn through one of the classic gets wasn't over recognize something like you said, music should not seek abstraction, you know, I think let it happen organically.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  43:28  
Yeah, right. That's really good. That's really, really good. So all right, so how about how about this, I think, you know, beginning jazz students, folks that are, at the start of their journey, are always trying to develop improvisational skills. And I think that's a big, it's a it's a foggy area for a lot of folks, how do I practice? Improvisation. So when I want you to think back, and even even today, when you sit down and practice and and improvise, how do you approach? How did you begin approaching practicing improvisation? And how do you continue to do it today?

John Di Martino  44:08  
Well, you know, it's a language. So just like the way we use language, we have, you know, we make, we have a definite sentence, we have a friend that has a definite meaning. So the thing to think about is creating a motif of musical motif. As you're sort of composing on the spot that has no melodic merit. In the old, the old timers would say, you know, say something. The old timers will say, like, somebody played really well. He's seen some meaning to language of the heart. It's not exactly like, Well, yesterday, last Tuesday, but, you know, so the ideas of like, Dizzy Gillespie you know, would always say start With a definite statement, and then your next thing you play should be a collaborative statement. You know, so you think about motivic development, which is always the hills, you know?

You know, for example, right, but typically, you know, those kids like it, you know, they wrote a whole hour of music based on three notes. So you think about it. So those principles are still there. And I recommend for students who are beginning I teach them, like the fundamentals of the blues, that really fundamental is just a very simple you do scale, and a very simple 145 progression. And I'm thinking, okay, in the very beginning, give me some kind of blues motif, and then carry that motif all through. Because even though, you've got simple elements, it says, I've got them restricted to a scale, which you don't really have to be but you know, and restricted to a certain progression. And if you can start to create meaningful motifs in this simple way that we deal with local Publix, Armand, you should be able to do that, too. You know?

Dr. Bob Lawrence  46:17  
Yeah. Right. Yeah, that's interesting, because you use the Blues as an example, if you've listened to blues vocalist, that's exactly what the vocalist is doing. They create a motif and repeat that motif. And then they repeat that motif. And they repeat that. They develop that.

John Di Martino  46:31  
Bars. Yeah, exactly. So I feel like that's a good fundamental way to learn. Also the blues, some feeling of the blues should always be there. That's part of what makes jazz what it is, you know? Right? It's always there. Even if it's very subtle. It's there. You know? That's, it's always there. Right? The spirit of that movie, it's

Dr. Bob Lawrence  46:53  
always there. That's right. Yeah. So along that thing with improv, how much the transcriptions play in your development, the study of transcriptions, did you do a lot of transcription studies?

John Di Martino  47:05  
You know, when I was watching your stuff, Oh, I did a lot of singing. And I noticed things entered me that way. I did a lot of listening. You know, I actually, I didn't do a lot of transcription. But but but it's probably a good thing to do. Because you're constantly getting a lot of new information. You know. I recommend it. I personally didn't do it. I think I kind of absorbed a lot of things just by osmosis. But

Dr. Bob Lawrence  47:43  
yeah, I kind of

John Di Martino  47:45  
transcription creates a kind of osmosis too, because I remember telling me, he said, even if you've totally imitating something you heard from somebody else, eventually that's going to sort of mutate and transform in you, and it will become yours. It'll become something Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  48:04  
Right. I totally agree with that. You know, I tell you, I kind of I kind of subscribed to like Michael Brecker. One time said that he never transcribed but what he did was, well, if he Yeah, he said that he would. He said he would hear if he heard something that he liked. Yeah. Then he would go, he would play then he would, he would play it and work with it. Right. But he was never one. He was never one transcribing from the beginning of a solo all the way to the

John Di Martino  48:32  
you would think he transcribed every Coltrane. So he had his unique sound. He didn't imitate Coltrane. Right. Right. They had so much music get him transcribed, everything was everything that he said that well.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  48:48  
Yeah. And, and, and like what you were just talking about, which I think is fascinating, too. I always I like that where you take a snippet, maybe maybe you hear something Bill Evans did and then you take that idea and continue to play it and as you were mentioning, it starts to morph and starts to become something of yours. You know, it's, it's a natural process. What I try to tell students is don't try to take a Bill Evans lick and then drop kick it into a foggy day in London town, you know, that the translation always doesn't work. Right. So interesting. Okay, another thing when when people check you out, and they listen to you, at least I'm I am always amazed when I sit and listen to you play your sense of time, time. How did you develop such a strong internal sense of time?

John Di Martino  49:45  
You know, I think what helps that a lot is just simply playing in a rhythm section. So you know, I dealt with music and music even early on, I was playing in bands, you know, playing so context of pop music and to actually embrace it all. And, you know, playing the straight ahead situation, I think playing in a rhythm section as much as possible, really helps you with that. And also just committing yourself to a groove. You know, I think the rhythm is the most important thing. Like you can you can make that you can make that the primary focus once it will teach your college ensemble. And I had a pianist who I can tell you hadn't really developed much jazz concept yet. So I told him, I think it might have been a blues, I told him to play a solo using only one note at a time, you know, right. So and that forcing the thing means being big Billy, Billy meaning being Billy, Billy Billy bing, bing, they forced him to think rhythmically. And it actually, it actually worked. Like he was starting to think that I said, Okay, now add some other notes. So I gave him that as an exercise just because I could tell him, he was just all over the place, you know?

Dr. Bob Lawrence  51:13  
Right. You know, that's really that's really fascinating. Yeah, I had a teacher that, that that used to do that with me, too, right. And he, and he would, he would always say, Hey, can you improvise with one note? And I'd go, you know, of course, I'm like, 14 years old? No, and he goes from there, then why do you think adding a second note is going to make

John Di Martino  51:35  
your brain Hello? Because even in speech, you know, I was just saying that I had Zeus yesterday. It was really and I was saying, you know, his name was calling me. I said, if I turn on the Zoom, and I said, Hi, Tom, me, how are you? Right? He would think, Boy, something's really strange about John. Cognitively. Yeah. So. So it's a result of the speech. And it makes sense. It makes you know, where you put your organizing, putting the emphasis on the right syllable, you know, that kind of thing.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  52:15  
Yeah, you know, it's Yeah, and the emphasis on rhythm, right? Again, I had another teacher who used to sit there, and he used to sit at the piano, and he used to comp. Now, John, there was no, there was no rhythm section, there is no bass player, there is no drummer, there's no player backing track, there's nothing. And he's in his living room. And he'd sit there and he'd start copying, and I'd sit there and watch him. And he would literally go on to the point that I got uncomfortable, it'd be like five minutes into it, eight minutes into it. 10 minutes into it. And then he finally look up at me, and he'd go, I could do that all day. And, and, and I think what you're getting at that is so vitally important for development of time and feel, and improvisational skills, that rhythmic dimension. Yeah. So to be able to sit there and just practice copying, wouldn't you agree that that is like, that's

John Di Martino  53:06  
a great vibe, that's a great exercise, I actually do that, in my practice. I do that in my practice. And, you know, some great examples of that, like, you know, well, amazing example of it is our silver, you know, and he even talked about that he said, when he played behind the soul as he wanted to bring that soul was, you know, to their to their zenith of what they could do, right? He listened to how red garland cops, you know, miles and even his left hand. You know, I used to go back to Philly. Later on, after I moved to New York, I used to do this gig is club and Philly longer exists with Mickey Roker, who had moved back to Cali, and he's no longer living or the harbor. But I remember him telling me. You know, he said, you know, our job as rhythm section players, is to help whoever we're playing behind help them find the deepest groove that they can find. And he added, he said, even if they're sad, which means even if they're playing is a little shaky. And I thought, wow, look at the dedication and humility of this great man who actually could have an attitude, he slipped behind sunnier offices. And I thought, wow, if he's that, humble in that giving, and thinking about that, I feel like I need to follow that example.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  54:33  
Yeah, that's right. Yeah, that's wonderful. So okay, so here you are in New York City. You're like, dude, man, you're like the dude has a lot to do. That's very true. Yeah. Yeah, that's why that's why I live in There's too many dudes there are too many dudes there. And so but but you you're playing where can folks hear you, man? Where can they come out and hear you play in

John Di Martino  55:16  
these days right now I'm doing an every Wednesday night, to great guitar players, Frank Mineola, and Jimmy Bruno's from Philadelphia from my neighborhood of Philadelphia. But I just, I just did a week here with Harry Allen. I have a lot of things coming up. I play Laos, and another great guitarist, and Sherry. And there's a lot of

Dr. Bob Lawrence  55:39  
you have a guitarist, love you, man guitarist.

John Di Martino  55:42  
It's fun, you know, the thing about piano guitar, that's all thing in itself, you know, less is more really applies. And so right, I enjoy playing with guitar, you know, because it, you know, it can get cluttered, if everybody's trying to fill the field, you know, think of Miles Davis, he, you can tell he really never played to impress, he wait to like, hear what his inner soul or what the universe was telling him to play any weight for as long as he wanted, until he heard that he really couldn't care if you were impressed or not. He was inorganic, I think we all need the approach that we the problem is everybody is so nervous, they gotta fill up the space, they gotta fill up the space. But aren't we?

Dr. Bob Lawrence  56:33  
I've always said I've always said speak with silence makes piano players nerves.

John Di Martino  56:39  
Well, you know, we don't have to breathe. And guitar players can be guilted the same thing. Here, at least, they have to breathe, especially brass players. So they have to space out the rest of the jobs. I think it makes them play a little more musical. Whereas, you know, me that we can actually just keep going, you know, but it's not musically best idea.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  56:59  
Yeah, you know, that's, that's, that's fascinating that you say that too, because a lot of times when I sit down and play transcriptions, I like to go play transcriptions of like, Chet Baker, or, you know, I like to play the horn player. Because because they're teaching me how to breathe. Exactly,

John Di Martino  57:13  
exactly. Because they added necessity. Yeah, yeah. And based on that, basically, you know, the biggest compliment, somebody says, Well, you make the piano sing. You sing when you play. That's the best compliment. So you know, it gets back to the boys.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  57:31  
Yeah, so who are some of your biggest? Let's kind of wrap up this way. Who are some of your biggest jazz piano influences? who are who are your go to

John Di Martino  57:40  
players? Number one is probably all PSA. This is Herbie Hancock, you know to me, yeah. But I You can see it on this wall, or the foot behind you are the four grades. There's for me is Joe Zawinul. He's, he looks kind of tough. I know he was gonna. And then there's Herbie Hancock, and then this chick Korea. And then there's Keith Jarrett. And I have to say, to this day, I feel like those four, like, if you look at the breadth of their creativity, and all the music they touched on, it's not unparalleled. But, you know, Bill Evans, you know, Anke, Jones, there's a lot of people I love, Harz. I know. I think what I wouldn't let jetsetting I get a lot from RSC that you don't think of that jazz ganas terms of his groove, you know?

Dr. Bob Lawrence  58:32  
Yeah. How much? I'm just curious. How much influence did Earl Gardner have on on me?

John Di Martino  58:38  
Not that much. But I didn't tell you one of the things I practice. Sometimes I take a ballot or eight bars of a ballot. And I play through the keys and I play different styles. And one of the things I'll do is played in Earl Gardner style. That also played a red garland style. I played a George series that I played a strike and I played with a Brazilian left hand, I played I played what I call a cowboy left. I have all these different like being and also going go to the keys playing a tune that way as a practice, which is a really interesting practice to do. You know, I start that with a free improvised version of that I'm actually playing like a total. This is something I got at a Kenny Warner's book. And I kind of put my own little spin on it. But I play what I call an imaginary ballot in all those different styles. It's actually totally improvised. And then I take a real tune, you know? Yeah, and

Dr. Bob Lawrence  59:47  
you move through the keys you've practiced

John Di Martino  59:51  
so far do that, you know when you play. You're gonna get especially for some reason, they their voices for some reasons are really good. You know, I don't know why, but it makes a big difference. You know? Why do you have to do it, it really makes a difference because I rehearse with singers all the time, and it has to make a big difference.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  1:00:13  
It makes a big difference, doesn't it? Right? I used to I used to, I used to play with a girl singer and she used the same Girl from Ipanema and II. And I felt like really? I said, can't do an F one half step up. She goes, No, II I go, okay.

John Di Martino  1:00:30  
Please like the key and especially actually, Brazilian music, those Sharpies, they like having the open strings. It's the guitar.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  1:00:39  
Right. Right. Right. makes a huge difference. Right. So Wow, that's fascinating. So I would encourage again, like I said at the beginning, your website has a wealth of information on there, you know about your all your recordings, the albums that you've done that like you said, there's videos they can check you.

John Di Martino  1:00:59  
My latest if I can plug is a passion flower. It's music. And it has a cameo, great singer. But it also features Eric Alexander and Louis ash and Boris Kozlov. Please check it out.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  1:01:17  
Right. You're right. Hey, and real quick talk a little bit real quick about the Mozart project. That was That was fast. I was listening to that. That's unbelievable.

John Di Martino  1:01:27  
One of the projects I did for Venus. early on. It was like playing for my group read his records. It's called John Demartini romantic jazz trio. I'm like, Okay, call me late for dinner. Anyway, that has worst Kozloff. And a great drummer, originally from Cuba, Ernesto Simpson, he now lives in England actually. And great drummer, a great drummer of anything straight ahead. Cuban music actually, because when he lived in New York and present musicians loved him. He has a great Brazilian feel are necessary, originally from Cuba. And that was, that was a fun project.

Dr. Bob Lawrence  1:02:10  
Oh my gosh, it's it's, it's it's wonderful. I want everyone to check it out. Especially classical music lovers need to check it out. It's awesome. It's awesome. It's really awesome. So hey, like I told you my son is out there in New Jersey. He plays baseball for he goes to New Jersey Institute of Technology plays baseball for them. And so I go out there to visit man, when I'm out there. I'm going to look you up brother, and I'm going to come check you. I want to come check you out and hear you play.

John Di Martino  1:02:38  
To get but oh man,

Dr. Bob Lawrence  1:02:40  
I would love to I would absolutely love that. So and we'd love to have you back on to jazz piano skills. In the future. Yeah, happy to have you come back on maybe we'll pick some very specific topics and kind of drill down deeper on some stuff. And that would be fun, especially the Latin styles, the Latin piano style that would be that would be fantastic. So, John, I can't thank you enough, my friend. It's been a joy. Like I said at the beginning, you know, you're one of the Michael Jordan's and Mickey Mantle's of jazz piano, you know, so, I know you got those pictures up there of Keith Jarrett and chicory and Herbie Well, in my office, I'm gonna I got I got those two, but I got you as well. So. So anyway, so thanks, thanks for being a part of jazz piano skills. And I know the jazz panel skills, listeners are going to enjoy everything that you've shared with us today. And so on behalf of all the listeners, thank you from the bottom of

John Di Martino  1:03:37  
all, thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Well, I

Dr. Bob Lawrence  1:03:41  
hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast, with special guests jazz great John DiMartino to be insightful, and of course to be very beneficial. One of my mentors and teachers, our friends, and used to say to me after every lesson, never forget, the greatest thing about music is the people you meet through it. And the privilege of meeting and spending time with John simply confirms Al's sentiment 100% Don't forget if you're a jazz panel skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz panel skills masterclass 8 pm, central time to discuss this podcast episode featuring John DiMartino, in greater detail, and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. As always, you can reach me by phone through the Dallas School of Music at 972-380-8050 by email Dr. Lawrence, drlawrence@jazzpianoskills.com or by SpeakPipe. A handy little widget found throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. Until next week, enjoy the journey. Enjoy the pearls of wisdom shared by John Di Martino and most of all, have fun as you discover, learn, and play jazz piano

John Di Martino Profile Photo

John Di Martino

Jazz Pianist, Composer, Arranger, Producer, Educator

John Di Martino is a composer, arranger, jazz pianist, producer, and educator, based in New York City. He is described as a "shape-shifter", for his creativity across musical genres.
John composed the music for the documentary series: “A Glimpse Of Paradise" ( Prospera Medienproduktion ) aired on Europe’s Arte Channel, and music for the video games: "Batman: The Telltale Series"

John Di Martino's latest CD’s are: “Passion Flower” ( the music of Billy Strayhorn ), featuring Raul Midon, Eric Alexander, Boris Kozlov, and Lewis Nash, and: “Mazel” (Yiddish Songs, re-imagined ), with Janis Siegel and Cantor Daniel Krammer (https://mazelthealbum.com/)

John has recorded numerous CDs on the High Note and Venus Records (Japan) labels as a leader, and with Freddy Cole, Gloria Lynn, Houston Person, and Nicki Parrott. John’s discography includes Grammy-nominated CD’S: ”Love" ( Issac Delgado ), "Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B" and "Live And In Clave" (Bobby Sanabria).

John Di Martino was a long time member of Ray Barretto's "New World Spirit", He is a featured arranger and pianist on many of Ray Barretto's recordings including the grammy-nominated, CD: "Contact" and "Portraits In Jazz And Clave" (featuring James Moody, Kenny Burrell, Joe Lovano, Steve Turre, and Eddie Gomez ).

Born in Philadelphia, Pa in 1959, John studied with Jimmy Amadie, Lennie Tristano, and Don Sebesky.

Discogs Artist Page

"John's soul and being come straight through to his music, the jazz world needs him! "
- Sheila Jordan (NEA Jazz Master)

"John Di Martino is one of my absolute personal favorite pianists of today. His music is an honest outpouring of light! "
- Benny Green (Jazz Pianist)

"John di Martino's middle name should be 'taste', for he conveys that quality in both solo and supportive roles, in jazz as well as Latin music."
- Ray Barretto (NEA Jazz Master)

"John DiMartino is a first-call veteran of the New York City jazz scene. This multi-recorded artist has long been a favorite of singers for his gigantic ears and intuitive, uncluttered playing—rare gifts that also enhance any instrumentalist he accompanies or arranges. DiMartino is a fine musician who sounds less interested in technical pyrotechnics than in mining a melody for its original intent—whether he's arranging or playing, he lets the essence of a song speak for itself. "
- Dr. Judith Schlesinger (All About Jazz)