Ellie Martin: Verdant

University of Toledo jazz prof sings a set of her own songs, predominantly reflective in style but with Latin and hard-bop episodes


Based in Toledo, Ohio, singer-songwriter Ellie Martin is well known in the mid-west and with Verdant, her debut album, her audience will undoubtedly extend both nationally and worldwide. Holder of a doctorate in jazz studies, Martin is vocal jazz instructor at the University of Toledo and at Toledo School for the Arts.

She is also a composer and lyricist and all the songs on this album are her own work. Thematically, they refer to facets of her life and these are such that they will resonate with many listeners.

The opening track, Living For The Now, is a samba and, taken at a brisk tempo, it reflect the liveliness of her two young daughters at play. Other Latin-tinged songs are Dancers Serenade, a tango centring on the sometime contrariness of personal relationships, and Lucianita, which blends jazz with flamenco and is, appropriately, sung in Spanish.

On Steel Eye City, Martin is joined by trumpeter Ben Wolkins for an excursion dedicated to the hard-bop tradition of her hometown. Deeply personal, yet with an undercurrent that will strike a chord with many listeners is Renewal, which celebrates surviving a battle with cancer. The closing track, Moments, is concerned with finding good and happy thoughts among memories of lost loved ones.

The singer’s accompanists here are all established performers and provide ideal support and attractive solos, particularly the guitar on Never Will I Worry and Lady Liberty and piano on several songs. An always interesting and thought-provoking set of songs that should have broad appeal.

Living For The Now; As Time Goes; Dancers Serenade; Never Will I Worry; Love Somehow Will Heal; Renewal; Steel Eye City; Verdant; Lucianita; Lady Liberty; Step Into Your Essence; Moments (56.19)
Martin (v); Peter Eldridge (p); Ariel Kasler (g); Kurt Khranke (b); Olman Piedra (d, pc); with Ben Wolkins (t, Steel Eye City); Andrew Bishop (cl, Living For The Now); Victor Gonҫalves (acn, Dancers Serenade); Keith Ganz (g, Lady Liberty); Mike Harrison (v, As Time Goes). Maumee, OH. 8, 9 August 2022.
Ellie Martin Music