Pedrito Martinez Group
“Since arriving in the United States at the end of the 1990s, the Cuban percussionist [Pedrito] Martinez has been all over the place…when his drums, singing and writing are the focus he’s an incomparable performer.”
- Ben Ratliff, New York Times
“If anyone can move Afro-Cuban music [to] greater visibility, it’s Martinez”
-Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker
Pedro “Pedrito” Martinez was born in Havana, Cuba, on September 12, 1973. He began his musical career at the age of 11, performing as vocalist and percussionist with such Cuban legends as Tata Guines and Los Munequitos de Matanzas. He was brought to Canada in 1998 by Jane Bunnett to tour with her group, Spirits of Havana. His decision to remain in North America to pursue his career proved to be an auspicious one when, two years later, the annual Thelonious Monk Institute Competition showcased Afro-Cuban Hand Drumming for the first time ever. Pedrito entered and won first place.
Since settling in New York City in 1998, Pedrito has performed, recorded, and/or toured with Paquito D’Rivera; Brian Lynch; Steve Turre; Meshell Ndegeocello; Eddie Palmieri; Arturo “Chico” O’Farrill; Stefon Harris; Bebo Valdés; Cassandra Wilson; Joe Lovano, and Sting, (for his rainforest benefit, with Elton John and Bruce Springsteen), Paul Simon, and Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Pedrito was also featured in the documentary film on Cuban music, Calle 54 and his singing and percussion playing were featured in the 2011, animated feature, Chico and Rita. PMG have been featured in The New Yorker magazine and in the Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Martínez was a founding member of the highly successful, Afro-Cuban/Afro-Beat band, Yerba Buena with which he recorded two albums and toured the world. Pedrito has lent his talents as a percussion player and vocalist to over one hundred records, including albums by Paquito d’Rivera, Issac Delgado, Eliane Elias, Stefon Harris, Steve Turre, Eddie Palmieri, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Edie Brickell and many others. These include six records that have been Grammy® nominated and one, a collaboration between Eddie Palmieri and Brian Lynch, called “Simpatico”, that was awarded a Grammy®.
His current band, the Pedrito Martinez Group [PMG] has its roots planted firmly in the Afro-Cuban rumba tradition and in the bata rhythms and vocal chants of the music of Yoruba and Santeria. With a home base gig in Midtown Manhattan, the group has built a fan base that includes Steve Gadd, Taj Mahal, John Scofield, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Derek Trucks, Steve Winwood, Herlin Riley and Wynton Marsalis.
The PMG has appeared in festivals around the globe, including The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival, The Umbria Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival and the Red Sea Festival, among many others. The group has self-released two live albums recorded at their home gig in NYC and plans are in the works for a studio album in the near future.