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MEL MARTIN and the Benny Carter Tribute Band will be performing at the third JEN Conference in Louisville, KY 6:00pm-6:50pm Location: Visions Stage. This is an all new edition of the popular band formed in 2007 to celebrate the Centennial Birthday of Jazz great Benny Carter. We will be celebrating his Centennial+5 in 2012 and launching this great ensemble at the esteemed JEN Conference. We will be performing many great Carter compositions as well as originals done with a forward lookng sensibility. Personnel will be Mel Martin on tenor, soprano saxes and flute, Bobby Watson on alto, Don Friedman on piano, Steve Kirby on bass and Jeff Marrs on drums.


New Video of Mel Martin and The Benny Carter Tribute Band @ JEN  
Produced by Bret Primack (The Jazz Video Guy)

Benny Carter & Mel Martin


Bobby Watson

Bobby Watson

Mel Martin
Mel Martin

Kevin Mahogany
Kevin Mahgany


The Benny Carter Tribute Band was formed by Mel Martin to pay tribute to the great Benny Carter on his centennial anniversary. August 8, 2007. The newly released Jazzed Media recording of the Mel Martin/Benny Carter Quintet, "Just Friends" was released on July 10, 2007. The principal musicians were all involved on a musical and personal level with Benny Carter and the band's mission is to perform his music and music closely associated with him. There were several key performances in July, August and September. The band will continue to offer the music and spirit of Benny Carter.

"Benny Carter is one of the most important figures in 20th Century music. His pioneering efforts spanned over eight decades. It was a true honor and privilege to have been associated with him in his later years. He was a genuine mentor and great friend and resource for me. He set the standard for how a musician should carry himself with dignity and professionalism. I miss being able to call him and just have a simple conversation as we did many times. I miss going to his Hollywood home and sitting in his music room lined with recordings, written music, many, many awards and pictures with several Presidents. Above all, I miss being able to play music with him because that was our singular, passionately shared interest. We rarely spoke of anything else other than family whose names he always remembered. It is with great pleasure that we are releasing this live recording of us together with such a great band in tribute of Benny Carter’s Centennial Birthday."
Mel Martin, March, 2007

" I am most impressed with Mel Martin's musicianship."
Benny Carter

"I grew up in the neighborhood and went to school with Benny's daughter. As to Benny - I wish I could be as great as Benny Carter."
Sonny Rollins - 2007

“It is obvious on this great recording that Mel Martin was finely mentored by Benny Carter, my number one saxophone hero, due to the clear Carter influence on Mel’s playing. His flute playing is also quite good on People Time.” Jimmy Heath – 2007

Special Guests

JAckie Ryan
Jackie Ryan

Winard Harper
Winard Harper

Don Friedman
Don Friedman

Victor Lewis
Victor Lewis

Saxes @ Dizzy's

Steve Kirby
Steve Kirby

Some special concerts feature additional saxophonists including Harvey Wainapel, Charles McNeil, Craig Handy, Jerry Dodgian and others to perform Benny Carter's saxophone ensemble music.

"A Conversation with Benny Carter

"Just Friends"

"Isn't It Grand"

People Time -The Benny Carter Tribute Band

Another Time, Another Place Pt.1 Mel Martin & Benny Carter Tribute Band

Another Time, Another Place Pt.2 Mel Martin & Benny Carter Tribute Band

Souvenir - Mel Martin & Benny Carter Tribute Band

Crazy Rhythm - Mel Martin & Benny Carter Tribute Band

"A Conversation with Benny Carter" - Courtesy of SF Jazz Festival
"Just Friends" and "Isn't It Grand" - Original production by Kennth Martinez Burgmaier for Jazz Alley TV
Video clips produced and edited by Bret Primack AKA the Jazz Video Guy


RealAudioClick here to hear the Mel Martin / Roger Kellaway Interview with Chuy Varella on KCSM-FM on 8/14/07

RealAudioClick here to hear Mel Martin interview with Michael Bourne WBGO 10/12/07

Mel Martin has proven to be one of the most versatile and creative musicians to emerge from the San Francisco Bay Area. His virtuosic abilities on woodwinds combined with his vast range of experience has brought him to a position of pre-eminence as one of the most inventive and innovative of performers. His unique abilities as an improviser, arranger and composer have made him a favorite of such greats as Benny Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, McCoy Tyner, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, and many others. His work as a leader has been documented on several brilliant recordings with the groups Listen, Featuring Mel Martin and his current band Bebop & Beyond as well as his fine recordings of the music of Benny Carter, Mel Martin Plays Benny Carter and the recent Just Friends by The Mel Martin/Benny Carter Quintet. He has applied these talents to a wide variety of performing and recording situations including Santana, Azteca, Mongo Santamaria, Boz Scaggs, Cal Tjader, Vince Guaraldi, Denny Zeitlin, Hubert Laws, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, B.B. King, Billy Cobham, Freddy Cole, and the Afro Blue Band as well as a multitude of independent studio projects. In performance Mel displays a rare combination of fiery soloing abilities and telepathic communication and projects a joyously spirited vibrancy to his audiences.

Andrew Speight is a clear-toned, hard driving alto sax player, one of the Bay Area's most lively and lyrical exponents of straight-ahead, joyous jazz. A native of Sydney, Australia, Speight came of age playing with American stars like Percy Heath, Nat Adderley and Benny Carter as they passed through town. His 1998 CD, Andrew Speight Quartet, won an Aria Award, the Australian version of a Grammy. Speight has been in the U.S. since the early 90's, leading jazz programs first at Michigan State University and now at San Francisco State. But most importantly, Speight has been blowing the doors off of every joint lucky enough to have him on the bandstand. Speight appeared with legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb on this year's highly acclaimed CD, Marsalis Music Honors Jimmy Cobb, released by the record owned and run by Branford Marsalis.

After touring with Nat Adderly, Joe Williams and Louie Bellson, Speight came to the U.S. in 1991 to compete in the prestigious Thelonius Monk International Saxophone Competition, where he was the only non-American finalist. He went on to join the jazz faculty of Michigan State University, collaborating while there with Branford Marsalis, Jimmy Heath and Benny Carter. He moved to San Francisco to join the SFSU faculty five years ago. Since arriving in the U.S., Speight has performed at major venues and festivals and performances around the world with the likes of Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Milt Hinton, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Bebop and Beyond.

Speight has developed a distinct, lyrical style. His playing draws inspiration from Charlie Parker’s classic sound while reflecting his own unique perspective. The result is distinctive and compelling--at once vintage and fresh, elegant and articulate.

Roger Kellaway has been described as "a musical chameleon" and "the most awesome jazz pianist quite possibly anywhere on earth". His discography runs to more than two hundred albums. He's performed with everyone from Elvis to Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie to Yo Yo Ma, Joni Mitchell to Mancini and Quincy Jones to Michael Tilson Thomas.

Kellaway is not only a major pianist, he is a composer of protean ability, writing in the jazz, classical and popular music fields, and scoring for films and television. His acclaimed "Cello Quartet" albums for A&M (recently re-released on Verve) are described by some as "crossover", "chamber jazz", and by others as the beginning of "New Age" music. They were the first in an eclectic array of projects beginning in the 1960’s. Roger's commissions included a ballet for George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet, orchestral pieces for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The National Symphony, the New American Orchestra and a variety of chamber works for Carnegie Hall performances, ending with the world premiere of his concerto, "Songs of Ascent," commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta, conductor. Roger later conducted the second performance with The Sapporo Symphony.

In the mid '60's Kellaway moved to Los Angeles to continue doing studio work, which soon included playing on, and then writing film scores. He became musical director for Bobby Darin, and in 1968 arranged and conducted Darin's album of songs from the film "Dr. Doolittle". Writing songs and arrangements for wonderful singers is a passion that sometimes expands into producing, as was the case for the Carmen McRae album, "I Am Music". The relationship had started with Roger's song "I Have The Feeling I've Been Here Before", written especially for her, with a lyric by the great Marilyn and Alan Bergman. Kellaway has also had a long association with the brilliant lyricist Gene Lees, and more recently with K. Lawrence Dunham, and singer song writer Amanda McBroom.

Kellaway’s most prized television credit is, "Remembering You", the closing theme for "All in the Family". Composed in 1970, it is still being heard on TV around the world. He has also been honored with a Grammy award for his music on the album "Memos From Paradise" for Eddie Daniels. He has written twenty five film scores including Barbara Streisand's "A Star is Born” for which he received an Academy Award nomination.

Robb Fisher - Robb grew up in Los Angeles, the son of a jazz musician who played in and directed an Air Force Band throughout World War II, arranged for the Dorsey brothers, and hosted a jazz show on KPFK. In 1967, Robb moved to San Francisco where he played his first gigs. For over seven years, he toured and recorded with the late, great Cal Tjader, anchoring Cal's Grammy Award winning album, "La Onda Va Bien" and Grammy Nominee album, "Gozame Pero Ya." He has recorded or worked extensively with such luminaries as Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Tania Maria, Carmen McRae, Anita O'Day, Poncho Sanchez and Clare Fischer. Along with his bass work, two of his compositions are featured on the Monarch CD entitled, "The Nighthawks Featuring Eddie Marshall," released in 1996. Rob recently performed at the San Francisco Jazz Festival with Mel Martin's Bebop and Beyond with Bobby Watson, Jack Walrath, and Wynard Harper. He also performs locally with the group XNY that includes Rob Schneiderman and Ron Marabuto. He is also a member of Bebop and Beyond, the Mel Martin  All-Star Big Band and the Tenor Conclave.

Jeff Marrs - Jeff Marrs has a masters degree in performance and composition from the prestigious New England Conservatory where he worked with great trombonist/composer/arranger/band leader Bob Brookmeyer. Since returning to the bay area last year Jeff has become one of the most in demand drummers in town. He has performed with Blue Note recording artist Stephon Harris, Marcus Shelby, Doctor Lonnie Smith, Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Mark Levine, Matt Clark, Michael Bluestein, The Collective West Orchestra, Dave Mac Nab, Art Hirahara, Mike Zilber and many other local greats. He is a current member of Bebop and Beyond, the Marcus Shelby Orchestra and the Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee group. 

The Benny Carter Tribute Band has appear,ead at the Hollywood Bowl, Yoshi's (Oakland), Sonoma State University, The Jazz and Blues Store (Carmel), The Hamlet (Cambria), Dazzle (Denver) and Dizzy's Coca-Cola Club (New York).

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