Saeed Saeed | February 23, 2013
The Loft Jazz’s Billy Martin speaks to Yasmine Al-Kuttab about his career as a jazz-man in New York and his performance today at Abu Dhabi’s The Monte Carlo Club.
You started off in New York, how do you find the Jazz crowd in Abu Dhabi?
When I arrived to Abu Dhabi I thought where do you go to hear good music, a place with ambiance that creates the atmosphere where you get the people that just want to relax and enjoy the experience. It was a great group of great people who came and it was exactly what we try to create but more than anything, its as much about the people as it is about the music.
Your a longtime art collector and a lover of contemporary Jazz, do you feel these two concepts work hand-in-hand in your music?
I find that there are elements in art that I try to incorporate in my music and its something that you’ll have to hear to experience. Just the use of the word ‘colour’ for me has as much application to music as it does to art, especially since we play improvised music, the impressionistic sense of art is always there.
What is your approach to Jazz improvisation?
The music has a lot of content, a lot of emotional content. I started studying that and it turns out there is a whole approach. I’ve had the privilege to study with some amazing people and then have just tried to carve out my own sound, so once people hear my group they should be able to recognise it whenever they hear it.
You’ll be joined by some local bass and drums, Rony and Elie Afif. Does you playing styles compliment each other
The very first time Rony, Elie and I played together, you had that empathy, it was just there. They are both very talented, very well educated musicians. The way that I play music you have to have fast ears, with Rony and Elie its the same, we just pick up right where we left off..very collaborative and its very much in the moment.
Does the crowd at Monte Carlo Club seem to really fit into the Jazz and Blues genre?
Its just a very cool, sophisticated crowd. The most amazing people are in Abu Dhabi, from so many different backgrounds and cultures and to give them a place to get together, to relax and hang is what we’re looking to achieve.
You can catch The Loft Jazz’s free performance from 4pm-7pm at Saadiyat Island’s Monte-Carlo Beach Club today.