Known mostly from his work with Kirk Franklin and Snarky Puppy, Shaun Martin is a pianist with a style that is at once awe-inspiring and down to earth. He released his first album as a leader this part summer – 7 Summers (Ropeadope Records). Having always had a knack for creativity and musicality, Martin explores a plethora of sounds on this album, from traditional jazz to afrobeat and Latin rhythms, and none of the tracks are more eye-opening that “Madiba.”
Starting off with a harmonic and almost somber horn introduction, this tune brings us through various textures and emotions. There is a stark contrast between that horn intro and the rhythmic entrance that follows, which is electrifying. The multi-faceted rhythmic approach, comprised of various percussion instruments, creates a thought-provoking rhythmic background to this song. It is this focus on groove that can appeal heavily to fans of other musical genres (as well as Martin’s inclusion of various styles in the music).
There are no dull moments on “Madiba.” A constant change of musical texture keeps the song exciting; a brilliant saxophone solo allows us to meditate on the development of a theme and to be amazed by some blazing fast runs. There was even some slaptongue! A seamless transition into Martin’s piano solo caps off a brilliant performance.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this tune is the collection of such quality talent. It is clear that Shaun Martin knows not only how to write and play, but also how to surround himself with musicians that will complement his music. Everything about this song was well-done. To learn more about Shaun Martin and his music, visit his website.