Michael Jackson’s Keyboardist Tumbles Down Volcano

From: Complete Connect Worldwide
Published: Fri Aug 19 2005

New York, NY – Jasun Martz, a former keyboardist for the King of Pop, tripped his way down the world’s tallest active volcano. But that was not a bad thing–it inspired the composer to write a symphony. Millions have heard the work of the New York-based producer, musician and composer but admittedly few know his name. Mr. Martz played synthesizers on Michael Jackson’s multi-platinum hit "Black or White." toured with Frank Zappa as his synthesizer programmer and co-arranged Starship’s classic hit "We built this city on rock and roll." But Martz has left rock music in the volcanic dust and has composed and released a new contemporary classical symphony entitled "The Pillory/The Battle." The double CD release has 2 1/2 hours of Martz’s music and features the 115-member Intercontinental Philharmonic Orchestra and Intercontinental Royal Choir.

Several years ago Martz, an avid fan of Charles Darwin, was following in his hero’s footsteps by exploring the Galapagos Islands. Searching for musical inspiration, he then climbed to the refugio on Ecuador's Mount Cotopaxi–the world’s tallest active volcano. Perhaps it was the altitude and the lack of oxygen, but when Mr. Martz began to descend the very steep slope, he began to run. He eventually was running and jumping down the mountain so fast, he tripped and began a tumble and slide. "In actuality, I did not slide very far but it was a bit harry there for a while" Martz said. As he lay near the bottom unhurt and laughing, he says he had an epiphany for his second symphony. "Charles Darwin!" Martz explained. "The new symphony would be about the effects of evolution on the earth 200 million years into the future."

With an intercontinental theme in mind, Martz returned to New York, and ran classified ads in cities around the world looking for "weird musicians who play weird instruments." "The response was fantastic." Martz said. "I heard from musicians from virtually every continent." Besides traditional orchestral instruments, Martz was looking for unique sounds. A one-of-a-kind instrument called a Crustation–a bowed and plucked stainless steel instrument with brass rods of varying lengths and configurations that rests on balloons was one of his favorites,

Martz said the Michael Jackson trial was occasionally a distraction from his composing and recording. "Since I have recorded for Jackson, it was hard to ignore the case. I was asked by CBS News for a comment but I decided to stay clear of the courtroom soap opera with a polite ‘no comment.’ Michael Jackson is a pop music legend, so it’s an honor to appear on his records," said Martz, who first performed on a King of Pop recording in 1990, playing a harmonic solo on "Street Walker"–a song that was never released. He said he was ecstatic when he got the call to contribute his keyboard virtuosity to another of Jackson’s songs, Black or White. Michaels Jackson’s producer Bill Bottrell has been quoted as saying Martz " brought an immediacy and rock & roll fire" to the multi-platinum hit song." Martz’s performance of the song appears on five of Jackson’s CDs including Dangerous, HIStory and Number Ones and three video/DVDs.

The 115-member Intercontinental Philharmonic Orchestra and choir is no ordinary orchestral group. After Martz emailed the score to the musicians in cities in every corner of the globe, they recorded their individual parts and then emailed their MP3 files to Martz. Utilizing the highest quality 24 bit digital technology, Martz then spent the next few years importing and manipulating literally thousands and thousands of digital files on the computer to create the final work of music "It’s a very unusual way to create a symphony," Martz said. "I know each musician’s performance intimately but I’ve only met a handful of the orchestra members in person." He believes this release is perhaps the first symphony ever recorded this way.

Martz, 52, who has lived in New York the past eight years, spent most of his youth in La Crescenta, a suburb of Los Angeles. Living in LA offered many opportunities. He signed his first recording contract at the age of 15 with his high school rock band that included Grammy winning producer Bill Bottrell (Sheryl Crow, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Shelby Lynne) and Academy Award winning screen writer Stephen Zaillian ("Schindler's List", "Searching for Bobby Fischer").

After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Mr. Martz returned to Los Angeles and was hired by Frank Zappa. While working with Zappa, Martz composed his first symphony, "The Pillory" and enlisted some of Mr. Zappa’s musicians to join in on the project. "Frank gave me some good advice about my music. I learned more about music touring with Frank Zappa than I did from my university professors" Martz says.

The Pillory/The Battle release has been receiving wide-spread critically acclaim and impressive worldwide sales so Mr. Martz is now contemplating writing his next symphony. "For inspiration, I’m planning a trek up Chile’s Ojos del Salado, the worlds highest extinct volcano," he said cautiously, " But I really hope I don’t have to tumble down the mountain to discover my musical ideas."

The Pillory/The Battle by Jasun Martz and the Intercontinental Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir is available at Amazon.com, CDbaby.com and TowerRecords.com.

More information about members of the orchestra and the CD can be found at JasunMartz.com
Company: Complete Connect Worldwide
Contact Name: Jasun Martz
Contact Email: Jasun@JasunMartz.com
Contact Phone: 914-833-9262

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