The Mindful Bard – Amanda Martinez

Books, Music, and Film to Wake Up Your Muse and Help You Change the World

Album:Amanda Martinez, Sola (2006).

Musicians: Kevin Laliberte, guitar; Rosendo Leon Arocha Jr. ?Chendy,? percussion; Osvaldo Rodriguez, violin and keyboards; Alexander Brown, trumpet.

Album: Amanda Martinez, Amor (2009)

Musicians: Kevin Laliberte, guitar; Rosendo Leon Arocha Jr. ?Chendy,? percussion; Osvaldo Rodriguez, violin and keyboards; Alexander Brown, trumpet; Kevin Fox, cello; Robi Botos, piano; and Tom Szczesniak, accordion.

?Hey sir, your eyes are following my dance
It’s dangerous, sir, your charm with this gypsy girl
I am no shadow, sir
You’re playing with fire
I only tell you of my love
The wound that quickly healed.?

Amanda Martinez and Evaristo Machado, ?Guajira Sola? (translation)

The Sonorous Latin Garden of Amanda Martinez

Spawned in the rich cultural stew that is Toronto, Martinez was the perfect choice to sing in Johannesburg, South Africa for the 2010 World Cup’s opening game?a game which happened to be between Mexico (her father’s country) and South Africa (her mother’s country).

This woman’s talent, creativity, authenticity, and stage presence are all gasp-worthy. Her songs embody all of the gusto, lust for life, indomitable spirit, sense of nostalgia, tragic cavalier sadness, and jubilant celebration of life’s simplest pleasures that we find in the traditional Latin musical forms. At the same time we get glimpses of an optimism and love of freedom That’s thoroughly forward-looking.

The recording quality is wonderful, and much of the credit for this must go to George Seara (one of the brains behind superlative recordings by Holly Cole, Herbie Hancock, and Sting), who co-produced Sola and solo-produced Amor.

These two albums also boast an outstanding line-up of jazz musicians; delightful surprises wait at the end of each chord sequence, and the band is unwaveringly watertight while giving the sense of rushing ahead with the speed and grace of Olympic gymnasts. Osvaldo Rodriguez notably provides an abundance of thrilling little musical gems in his piano playing, and the violin is as anguished as a new widow.

Amanda has a rich, resonant, expressive voice that sounds effortless and unhesitant, and she includes all those special vocal touches?like the little half-yodel where the voice breaks on leaping for a high note, the breathy little segues, the sad moans?that make for a true Latin feel. The lyrics she pens are so Latin in flavour that It’s hard to believe they were written only recently, and by a Canadian. All the elements of tango?the terrible nostalgic yearning for a lost past, the love longing, the sense of having been betrayed, and the urge to drown one’s sorrows in dance? are here in abundance. But at the same time it all sounds new.

Many sing of pain, but few can make you both feel it and transcend it like this.

The music of Amanda Martinez manifests six of The Mindful Bard’s criteria for music well worth a listen: 1) It’s authentic, original, and delightful; 2) it makes me want to be a better artist; 3) it displays an engagement with and compassionate response to suffering; 4) it inspires an awareness of the sanctity of creation; 5) it provides respite from a sick and cruel world, a respite enabling me to renew myself for a return to mindful artistic endeavour; and 6) it makes me appreciate that life is a complex and rare phenomenon, making living a unique opportunity.