Bill Martin’s music career began in the 1960's performing folk music
in coffeehouses near the University of Minnesota.
Soon after graduating from high school, he headed west to the Rocky Mountains and began exploring and entertaining in resort communities from Jackson Hole to Telluride.
For much of the next decade he journeyed pursuing music opportunities.
After years on the folk scene and needing new musical and intellectual stimulation, Martin bypassed country-western and rock and roll to make a quantum leap to jazz with its limitless expressive opportunities.
From his early twenties Martin found a home in northwest Colorado, settling in a remote, pastoral valley nestled near the crest of the continental divide. Far from large populations, the performing opportunities were limited. However, he found work at the
hotels and restaurants in the mountain resorts and additionally
traveled throughout the region with a jazz dance band.
During his musical development period, when he was trying to figure out what to do with the guitar, his only exposure to jazz was a limited record collection and the legendary
Denver FM jazz radio station, KADX.
Hungry for more new jazz, some nights he would drive to the summit of nearby Rabbit Ears Pass where at nearly 10,000 feet he could tune in KADX broadcasting its signal from a mountain peak 150 miles in the distance. In solitude, under a cobalt sky he would absorb the masters, new artists and songs of the genre late into the evening.
Satellite and internet radio were still years in the future.
Few other local musicians were interested in jazz, so Martin began developing his solo musical technique by trying to capture on his guitar the full sound of the music he was hearing. Without realizing it he was creating a distinctive chord-melody style.
Complimenting this self-taught development, he began taking lessons and pursued instruction from guitar master Howard Roberts for technique and music theory.
Canadian guitarist Ed Bickert’s chord-melody style captured his imagination,
and he listened intently.
As Martin grew older, married and gained more responsibility, music was not providing an adequate income. With the need to earn a stable living he apprenticed with a master cabinetmaker learning a profession he would successfully pursue for the next 25 years.
In a circuitous way, cabinetmaking augmented Martin's musical development. While he worked in his studio, the stereo thundered jazz music above the cacophony of woodworking machinery eight hours a day. Listening to the great jazz artists,
he analyzed and memorized harmonies, phrasing, rhythms and styling.
Martin's skill and versatility with the guitar is the culmination of many personal and musical experiences. He reflects, “If I had the same technical skill on the instrument 20 years ago my music would not have had the sensitivity it does today.”
2003 Acoustic Reflections A retrospective of original and classic folk
songs featuring Martin singing and showcasing his vibrant
finger picking on an acoustic guitar.
2010 Skylark Martin introduces his mellifluous chord-melody technique
presenting original solo guitar arrangements of jazz standards.
2016 Mr. Lucky A celebration of Martin’s 50 years performing music.
Highlighted are a selection of Broadway, movie and TV themes
crafted in his dulcet style.