Rocklin musician to play famed Horowitz piano

Hear history at Sherman Clay concert
By: Placer Herald staff report
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Jim Martinez concert

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9

Where: Sherman Clay Pianos, 771 Pleasant Grove Blvd., Roseville

Tickets: $15; 804-8370



The legendary Steinway & Sons Model D Horowitz Piano continues its tour of North America with an upcoming stop in Roseville. Pianist and Steinway artist Jim Martinez will present “From Bach to Bix to Brubeck” Feb. 9 at Sherman Clay Pianos. Seating is limited.

Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989) is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. This Steinway is the instrument Horowitz kept in his New York townhouse. He used it in many recitals and recordings in the 1970s and ’80s, and he famously demanded that the piano be his exclusive touring instrument during the last four years of his life, including his triumphant return to the former Soviet Union for performances in Moscow and Leningrad in 1986.

“I think there’s almost a kind of mystique about it that makes you play better, because you know that great hands touched the keys,” Martinez said. “I’m actually excited about it – I’m not nervous at all.”

Martinez, who lives in Rocklin, is a professional jazz pianist with classical roots. He has worked with Lionel Hampton, the Stan Kenton Band, Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Christian McBride, Benny Golson, Roy Hargrove and many others. He has also worked as pianist and musical director for Joan Rivers and Bob Newhart.

Martinez said he didn’t want to play all jazz on a classical pianist’s instrument, so he decided to mix it up, presenting a concert with classical selections from Bach, cornetist Bix Beiderbecke and concluding with music made famous by Dave Brubeck, all on the famous Horowitz piano.

“Every piano, to an artist, is special,” explained Thomas Masi, manager of the Roseville Sherman Clay Pianos. “Every artist hand picks their own piano.”

Sacramento vocalist Laura Didier will join Martinez for a few songs, and she said the audience at the intimate Sherman Clay venue is in for a treat.

“He is incredibly gifted,” Didier said of Martinez. “He is a Steinway artist – he was selected by Steinway to be on their artist roster, so it’s amazing to watch him play.”

Sacramento pianist Jennifer Reason has been announced as an additional featured artist for the concert. She will perform various classical pieces on the Horowitz Steinway.

Didier said it’s fitting to have someone with Martinez’s skill play on a piano played by someone as legendary as Horowitz.

“Because each Steinway is handmade, and artists of that caliber select the instrument that they want, you know that’s it’s an amazing instrument, because someone of that caliber is only going to pick the best, the absolute best instrument to have with them at all times,” she said.

“This is going to be amazing,” Martinez said. “It’s going to be like driving a Lamborghini.”