Percussionist and sideman Jorge Martin is not a household name. In fact, it’s difficult to find his name anywhere–he stays off the web–but the Hollywood-based musician has collaborated with big names since his early days in Detroit in the heyday of Motown Records. Martin, 60, has lived in Los Angeles since the ‘80s and built a name as a session player. That title may not come with as much notoriety, but it does come with gigs if you’re good. “One gig will lead to three other ones,” he says. Martin also believes musicians have to be sure of what they want in the modern age, because technology can lead to indecisiveness in music.
“Most people call me to do percussion on computer tracks, and it’s like the feeling is gone. How are they going to play this on stage? You've got to figure out what you’re going to do. This is what confuses people. They’ve got too many options. People fiddle with something for months until they kill it. I take everything out and it’s like, ‘Oh, it sounds great.’ If I show up with three trucks of material it doesn’t mean I’m going to use it. The song is going to tell you what it is. There’s no way around it.”
Martin’s résumé includes work on commercials in multiple countries, and work for film director John Schlesinger, composer George S. Clinton and composer Dwight Andrews (HBO). His most recent gig of note is contributing on songs for the hit series Game of Thrones. As a session player, Martin says you have to be prepared to never hear the song again—it may not ever be released. But the work, as well as his time spent studying musicology at UCLA, has made him a more adaptable player who’s able to interpret the sometimes-cryptic visions of film and television directors.
“Color is what a lot of film people rely on,” Martin says. “They say, ‘It feels like red or blue.’ You’ve got to be able to translate that. You’ve got to be able to understand colors.”