Willie Martinez has been a familiar face in New York City's eclectic music scene for well over twenty years. As well as being a much sought after drummer, percussionist and vocalist, he is also a gifted arranger and composer.
Willie's considerable vocal and rhythmic talents have been featured with groups performing everything from Gothic Funk at the quintessentially New York rock club CBGB's to Afro Cuban Jazz on the grand stage of the prestigious Carnegie Hall. He has performed and recorded with artists as varied as the classic Cuban arranger, composer, and bandleader Chico O'Farrill, legendary Jazz pianist George Cables and contemporary Pop divas Jewel, Faith Hill, and Brandy.
His performances have been documented on television, video and CD, sharing the stage with a wide variety of artists representing a Who's Who in the American music industry, including Latin legends Charlie Palmieri, Ray Santos, Paquito D'Rivera, and Bebo Valdes; Jazz greats T.K. Blue, Danny Mixon, Steve Turre, Benny Powell, and Arthur Blythe; and pop veterans Leon Pendarvis, Barry Eastmond, Jerry Barnes, and Ira Siegel.
Mr. Martinez performs regularly with his group La Familia Sextet; an ensemble that features Willie's original compositions and arrangements, as well as those of the members of La Familia, all top notch composers in their own right, along with new interpretations of a few familiar themes from the past.
The sextet features Willie on drums and vocals, Cristián Rivera and Renato Thoms on congas and percussion, Misha Tsiganov on piano, Jennifer Vincent on bass, Max Schweiger on baritone sax & flute, and J. Walter Hawkes on trombone.
La Familia Sextet stands upon the shoulders of Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Jerry Gonzalez's Fort Apache, and Hilton Ruíz to present a musical experience that represents the very best in real New York style Latin jazz. Join them as they take the listener on a musical journey that explores a singular style of music that continues to thrive and flourish on the streets of the Big Apple, from Alphabet City to East Harlem!
After Winter, Spring is La Familia's long awaited follow-up to Family, their well received 2006 debut recording. This new production finds the original members of La Familia reunited and joined by new member Cristián Rivera, one of the hottest young percussionists on the New York scene today. Enjoy this new offering from one of the tightest and swiningest bands in town!
Mr. Martinez can also be heard with the Bronx Horns, led by longtime Tito Puente saxophonist Mitch Frohman; on "Back with Sweet Passion", produced by the highly acclaimed Charanga flutist Andrea Brachfeld. Willie is featured here on vocals, as well as on the drumset; on "Pa'lante", the highly acclaimed Latin jazz CD by Palmetto recording artist, trumpeter Ray Vega; and on "Steppin' with T.P.", the last commercially released CD by the late, great piano virtuoso Hilton Ruíz, to name a few.
He is also the musical director of percussionist Norman Hedman's tropical jazz ensemble Tropique, and can be heard on their fourth and latest recording "Garden of Forbidden Fruit" on Power Light Records.
He resides in Brooklyn, New York with his wife Aricka and their two children.