Growing up in New York City, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, bassist Ray Martinez first began performing in the Big Apple with a group called Frequency. Producer Teo Macero, no slouch when it comes to looking for talent, picked up this band for a CBS recording, kick-starting Martinez's active career as a bassist, composer, and bandleader. Although he is largely associated with the Afro-Cuban scene and writes tunes appropriate to that style such as "Con Mi Ritmo" and "Tropical Breeze," Martinez can hardly be accused of never straying from his neighborhood. His musical tastes are broad and he lists heavy rock groups such as Cream and Led Zeppelin as influential, along with soul brother number one James Brown.
Martinez was formally educated in the Dominican Republic at the National Conservatory of Music and in New York City at Lehman College. Once he had established himself he worked for many years with Latin legend Mongo Santamaría, first to feature Martinez tunes on his albums. The bassist moved toward leading his own group, Conjunto Tipico Criollo, which cut several albums. He has also worked with the Buddha Latin Jazz All-Stars, Ray Barretto, Johnny Pacheco, Dave Valentin, Héctor Lavoe, and many other Afro-Cuban performers. Pop icons Paul Simon and David Byrne have tapped him for assistance with their own wimpy limp-Latin projects. Martinez continues to explore projects fusing sounds from Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean with American jazz. He should not be confused with Miami's disco producer of the same name. ~ Eugene Chadbourne