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ELLIE MARTIN Releases "VERDANT," Her Debut

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    Posted: 23 May 2023 at 10:17pm





Releases May 12, 2023 

ELLIE MARTIN - Verdant cover


Nothing focuses your attention on the important things in life more than confronting -- and beating -- cancer and then starting a family. Watching her children living in the moment and playing with abandon made ELLIE MARTIN realize that you cannot take anything for granted. Despite a successful and rewarding career in academia, the singer and songwriter decided it was time to follow her dream and record an album.


VERDANT, Martin’s debut recording, showcases her wide ranging vocal and compositional talents. The album comprises 12 original songs that mostly follow the arc of her life in the last few years, reflecting her experiences as a woman, a mother, and a cancer survivor. Martin’s voice is light and warm as she skillfully navigates through her program of bebop, Latin grooves, ballads, and swing, undaunted by challenging intervals.


Martin, who lives in Toledo, OH, gathered for this recording some of the finest Midwest-based musicians as well as guest artist PETER ELDRIDGE, who plays piano and sings background vocals. Also joining Martin is ARIEL KASLER on guitar, who has two albums that feature original jazz compositions influenced by Middle Eastern, Jewish, and Israeli music. Bassist KURT KHRANKE has been a mainstay on the Detroit music scene for over 40 years. He has worked with many jazz luminaries, including Sheila Jordan, Ray Bryant, James Moody, Larry Coryell, Joe Henderson, Steve Turre, and Clark Terry. OLMAN PIEDRA not only plays drums and percussion, he is also Martin’s husband. Like Martin, he is an educator with a doctorate in music. Grammy-nominated KEITH GANZ plays guitar on two tracks and mixed the album. Rounding out the performers on the project are VICTOR GONҪALVES (accordion), ANDREW BISHOP (clarinet), BEN WOLKINS (trumpet), and MIKE HARRISON (background vocals).


Martin opens the album with “Living for the Now,” which she wrote for her two daughters. She wanted to capture the toddler’s universe and wrote the piece as a fast Samba to reflect the frenetic energy of her young daughters at play. “As Times Goes” is a ballad about losing love as we age. The song is a duet that features Mike Harrison.


Martin wrote “Dancers Serenade” as a tango to capture the push and pull of power in relationships. It features Brazilian accordionist Victor Gonҫalves. “Never Will I Worry” has a modern jazz-fusion feel. She wrote the song after several of her friends got divorced and realized that she never even saw the problems brewing below the surface. She writes, “Thought it would last ‘til death do us part. / Promised forever with a toast from the heart. / Buttoned up and brittle, / Endless masquerade. / We tiptoe ‘round each other, /And the promises we’ve made.”


Martin wrote “Love Somehow Will Heal” for a close friend who died from cancer when she was just 36. She wanted the song to have an intimate feel, so she arranged it with just piano and clarinet accompaniment. “Renewal” is a celebration of life. Martin wrote the song after she was finally cancer free. Written in the hardbop style reminiscent of the music that came out of Pittsburgh, “Steel City Eye” is an homage to the city where she received her PhD.


“Verdant,” the title tune, is a ballad about renewal. It encapsulates the theme of the album with lyrics like “Verdant green comes to life once more, / Pale pinks in a field of barley / Meadow larks sing from tree to tree. / I’ll be waiting under the oak for you. Climbing branches, carving secrets, / Stealing kisses.” Martin wrote Flamenco infused jazz piece “Lucianita” for her daughter. The piece was inspired by a trip to Spain that she took with her husband shortly before their daughter was born. The lyrics are in Spanish and capture her daughter’s fiery, strong-willed personality. Martin wrote “Lady Liberty” after attending the Woman’s March in 2017. The song has a strong political statement about the power of diversity and the strength of the nation through inclusivity. The song features a moving guitar solo by Keith Ganz.


Martin got the phrase “Step into Your Essence” from Kate McGarry during a vocal lesson. It is a funky tune about accepting yourself for who you really are. “I am more than net worth, and I am not my things. / I am not my hair, or the fancy clothes that I wear. / I'm tired of trying to be perfect, / An age-old condition of waiting on permission, / And feeling like you're not enough.” Martin closes VERDANT with “Moments.” The song, which she wrote after her grandfather’s death, is about the memories and love that are left behind after a loved one leaves us.


The songs on VERDANT come directly from Martin’s life. Audiences in the Midwest, where she tours extensively, have had plenty of opportunity to hear Martin in concert. With the release of VERDANT, a larger audience will finally get to enjoy the depth and breadth of her artistry.



Ellie Martin is currently the vocal jazz instructor at the University of Toledo, as well as Toledo School for the Arts. She has performed at the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival, the Sunset Jazz Festival, and the Michigan Jazz Festival. She was the featured vocalist with the National Arab Orchestra in San Antonio Texas, and she has performed alongside jazz luminaries Geri Allen, Terri Lynne Carrington, Esperanza Spalding, the New York Voices, Jon Hendricks, and Afro Blue. 


She completed her bachelor’s degree in voice at McGill University, a master’s degree in vocal jazz performance at the University of Toledo and a PhD in Jazz studies from the University of Pittsburgh under the guidance of Dr. Nathan Davis and Professor Geri Allen. While at UT, Martin worked closely with the legendary lyricist, vocalist and distinguished Professor of Jazz, Jon Hendricks, and wrote her master’s thesis and dissertation on Hendricks and the formation of his seminal vocal group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. 


Martin has given several national and international lectures on vocal jazz historiography, improvisation, intersections between voice and instrument, and media reception of race and gender in vocal jazz. Her background in Jazz Studies and performance make her a unique and distinctive educator and performer.   


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VERDANT releases on May 12, 2023 and is available everywhere.









Edited by snobb - 23 May 2023 at 10:17pm
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