Alex Martin

Story

In my corner of the music business, one ends up playing a lot of duos--duos with bassists, duets with violinists, duos with vocalists... Part of this is the result of performing often in restaurants and other small venues, part of it is just the general downsizing and shrinking budgets of everything. Fortunately, I love playing in this form, one of the most intimate art forms there is. When it is really working, a duo is a conversation greater than the sum of its parts. In the interplay between the two musicians, and between them and the audience, something independent and almost autonomous is created, which the creators (who, again, always include the audience) observe and respond to in turn. When I play a duo, I'm inspired by masters of this form, pairs like Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass, Paulo Bellinati and Mônica Salmaso, Homero Lubambo and Cesar Camargo Mariano, Bill Frisell and Fred Hirsch, Jim Hall and Bill Evans, Gene Bertoncini and Michael Moore... I am committing sins of omission here, but if you're not familiar with any of these pairs, I urge you to check them out. Here are a couple of examples of my own duo work, with two talented collaborators.

Alex Martin & Nathan Garrett
12/19/2007
Alex Martin

Story

This is a piece a wrote for a friend back in 2007 and recorded as a duo with acoustic bassist Nathan Garrett. I still like it! The recording was by Kofi Rozell at One World Studios, the same place I recorded Nostalgia for Terra Incognita.

Alex Martin & Rachel Sberro
03/25/2013
Alex Martin

Story

I wrote the music for this lullaby in 2003, in honor of the birth of my first niece, Chloé Bash. This very happy moment for my family coincided with a much sadder event, the outbreak of the U.S. war in Iraq. As the miracle of a new human life was beginning, humankind's most horrific invention was renewing itself, this time in the cradle of much of human civilization. In the place that used to be known as Mesopotamia, Sumer and other of the first cities were built millennia ago. So here we are, with the best and the worst we can do.

Chloé continues to be a miracle, a gentle, creative, and curious spirit who brings happiness to those around her. This year, as her tenth birthday approached, I decided to try something I never have before: putting words to one of my melodies. Strange as it may sound, although I have a master's degree from a creative writing program, I have never been able to integrate my musical and literary selves. I was inspired to try by my work with the singer Rachel Sberro, who writes inspired lyrics for her own songs. Like most of Rachel's, mine is in French, the maternal language in my family (the one our French mother taught my sister and me, and the one my sister and I speak with her two daughters). To make the "Berceuse" a bit easier for Rachel to sing, I also changed the key, and in the process rearranged the piece a bit. Merci infiniment to Rachel for contributing her beautiful vocals and for all her encouragement of my songwriting. Thanks also to sound engineer Sven Abow for his sensitive work on this track, recorded and mixed at his Sound Pool Studio in Brentwood, Maryland.

There are lots of references to the night sky in this song, the heavens that shelter us. I imagined Chloé lying in bed and looking out the window at the stars. I wrote much of this lyric in the middle of the night, when like a lot of people I wake up and have trouble falling back asleep. Sometimes this is when I would find the idea for a new verse or the solution to a problem I was having with a line. For myself, for Chloé, and for those who listen to this song, I hope it brings peace.

Lyrics

Lune de miel, voie lactée
oreiller de nuages . . .
Le chaton sidéral
aux poils doux de jais
boit les constellations
et s'enroule à  tes pieds.
Et tu dors
sur la Terre
bleue et verte
des enfants
de la Mésopotamie.
 
Au pied de la lettre
on trouve des diamants
dans la forêt des langues
dont la mousse verte scintille--
et les astres de la rosée
dansent devant tes pupilles.
Et tu rêves de la Terre
bleue et verte
des enfants
de la Mésopotamie.
 
Les tontons insomniaques
cherchent la petite bête,
cherchent minuit à deux heures
et les mots pour te dire
que l'amour t'entourera
même quand il faut souffrir.
Et tu res-
pires le ciel
bleu et vert
des enfants
de la Mésopotamie.
 
Sagittaire, Poisson de mars,
Grande Ourse en peluche--
Qu'est-ce que ça veut bien dire
quand le monde est cruel ?
Que tu portes la réponse en toi,
tu portes en toi le ciel.
Et tu pries
pour la Terre
bleue et verte
des enfants,
enfants endormis
au coeur de la nuit
de la Mésopotamie.