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Jim Martinez presents Roseville Jazz Day Saturday

By: Gold Country Media
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Roseville Jazz Day will take over 311 Vernon St. in Roseville from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, thanks to jazz pianist Jim Martinez.

Presented by music software company, Invisible Touch Music, the event sold almost 1,000 tickets by Wednesday.

Area jazz lovers are now gearing up for the first major local jazz event since Sacramento’s longtime annual jazz festival ended last year.

Local downtown restaurants and food trucks are preparing for the influx of business and heavy pedestrian traffic during the event. Ticket prices start at $27 for an all-day pass that grants access to all featured musicians while prices start at $45 to see the 10-time Grammy Award- winning vocal jazz group, The Manhattan Transfer. Those shows will be at 241 Vernon St. at the Roseville theatre with a 4 p.m. show and a 7 p.m. show.

For a list of all artists featured at the ‘all day’ event, check RosevilleJazzDay.com.

Martinez, Roseville Jazz Day’s founder and executive director, is also a well-known professional jazz pianist.

“The fact that for our first year at this festival, we were able to get the The Manhattan Transfer as our headliner, it’s a really big deal,” Martinez said.

The Press Tribune asked Martinez, who lives in Rocklin, about the event and also being a local artist. Martinez’s answers follow.

How long have you played piano?

“I’ve been playing since I was 4 years old, so about 49 years. I had some really rigorous classical training for nearly 18 years straight where every week we had lessons on top of theory lessons followed by more lessons. It’s when I got to high school at Del Campo that I realized jazz was my thing. There’s no way I could be playing the jazz I play now without that extensive background combined with heavy classical training. It gives you facility, dexterity and focus to have all that experience. It’s the foundation for many great jazz players today. Shortly after high school, I went on to develop my own music software company, Invisible Touch Music, in 1988, and then I ended up selling it Warner Bros.”

Why are you doing the Jazz fest? Is it something you’d like to continue doing?

“This gives a huge opportunity to local jazz artists and jazz fans alike to get excited about this genre of music. It’s right here in our backyard again, and I’m so thrilled that we made this happen and this is only the beginning. As the executive director of the event, I’ve been coordinating and managing festival logistics by setting up all the different venues (there are seven this year), getting all the licenses in order from all vendors, ensuring sponsorship, organizing artist groups for the event and many other things I can’t even think of right now. It’s been a tough process but definitely worth it. I also act as the artistic director where I hire all the bands and coordinate scheduling in conjunction with upcoming events we put on. And we’ve got seven venue locations downtown, several of which are outdoors so it’s pretty cool. So it’s like one gig times seven.

It’s very important to note that I’m not alone in helping organize this event. I have a staff of five. Joelene Rodriguez is my executive assistant; she basically keeps me on task and is catching up on the tasks that I can’t get to with my busy schedule.

My wife, Suzy Rodriguez, is coordinating and communicating with nearly 100 volunteers we have set up who are helping with the event and who have been such an intricate part of this process.

Guy Kowarsh is my sound manager. He hired all of the musical equipment including guitars, bases, drum sets, etc. He’s the man because he does the stuff that I would never have time to do. I couldn't do this without the sponsors here in town like the Roseville theatre and the DRP Downtown Roseville Partnership. Without their financial support, this event would not be what it is; it actually wouldn't even happen.

In this day and age, marketing has become more important than ever. Steinway Pianos endorsed me as an artist in 2011, which was huge because we are talking about the Jaguar of pianos and when I am playing at an outside venue, I let them know I’m a Steinway artist. It’s a game changer, just the name attachment. I love to tell people I’m a steinway artist because the name matters.

We have to save jazz music in the Sacramento area. There are many jazz fans and jazz lovers in this area, not only the baby boomer generation, but this allows for new waves of jazz music and new jazz lovers for young audiences to become involved. However, we are aware that there will be many senior citizens in attendance. We want to give them some assistance  to provide multiple golf carts to aid in mobility. We plan on doing this annually and hopefully a bigger event next year, maybe doing two days or possibly a weekend event. The sky’s the limit from this point on. It’s only going to get better.”

How are tickets going for the event?

“It’s been a really good initial response. We have already sold over 1,000 tickets. For the first year, we are very pleased with the limited budget for advertising. We are looking pretty good and we are very happy with it.”

What do you love about being a professional musician in this area?

“I frequently travel nationally all over the country and I’m very close to the airport so people will often ask me as a professional jazz pianist why I don’t live in L.A. or New York. Because I can live wherever I want is what I reply with. I then let them know that Northern California is my home and I’m not going anywhere. There's also plenty of music opportunities here in Roseville for all artists, at the amatuer level all the eay to the professional level. Many venues and opportunities for networking that helps artists thrive, opportunities like this Roseville Jazz Day event.I really love the history of this area and the newness in regards to development and fun projects that helps progress the city of Roseville and Rocklin.”

What essentially drove your passion to become a musician and what are you most proud of?

“I was never the 9 to 5 kind of guy. Although I was wired in that way because I’m an entrepreneur and working long hours is something I’m very familiar with, I just knew I was going to to something that wasn’t traditional to the 9 to 5 job.”