The Bentley with Red Shoes

All About Jazzical® with Joel A. Martin

Joel A. Martin is a Norwalk CT-based pianist, producer, composer, and arranger who has collaborated with, and/or written music for, Grammy® Award-winners Alan Menken, Kathleen Battle, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, cellist Eugene Friesen of the Paul Winter Consort, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jaimoe of the Allman Brothers, among many luminaries.


At age 17 Joel was the youngest and the first African-American pianist to compete in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition (1985). He has appeared as soloist with the NY Philharmonic, El Paso Symphony, Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MA), Philadelphia Orchestra, Cab Calloway Orchestra, New Hampshire Festival Orchestra, and the Hartford Symphony, among many others.


Trained as a classical pianist at the Hartt School of Music and SUNY, Purchase, he created "Jazzical" in 1995 as a celebration of creative fusion: "the explosive union of classical composition and jazz innovation ignited with a fresh spirit all its own." This concept, form and vehicle "captures the dynamic force of multiple cultures and influences, unleashing a kinetic energy that breaks down boundaries and yields whole new worlds of musical expression." 


In 2016 he created The Sonicals, a piano duo with George Lopez.  And in 2017 he joined with Paul Winter Consort multiple Grammy-winning cellist Eugene Friesen to create the Friesen and Martin Cello/Piano Duo, playing music infused with pop, jazz, rock, and world folk styles. 


Joel is currently collaborating, orchestrating and touring the US with multiple Grammy-winning MET opera soprano Kathleen Battle in her production, "The Underground Railroad: A Spiritual Journey." He has been with her as pianist, composer, and arranger for the last 11 years! 


On June 29, 2019, Joel debuted a concert reading of his first opera, HIPOPERA at the Darien Arts Center. HIPOPERA will be premiered in Dallas in late 2022 in collaboration with the Dallas Black Dance Theater, the first opera of its kind completing integrating modern dance with opera.

On January 2022 he will also be premiering his 9th CD “Jazzical: Komitas – Passion of Fire” paying homage to Armenia's cultural and artistic icon, Gomidas Vartabed, with a world tour being planned in support of this project.