Sax-playing Tino gets ‘Best of Bermuda’ nod
Terence “Tino” Martinez was shocked to discover he’d been named Bermuda’s best musician.
In fact, he initially mistook the message from The Bermudian magazine for spam.
“But something said, read that again,” the saxophonist said. “Then I was like, ‘Oh, wow!’ It was definitely a shock to win the award. There are loads of good musicians in Bermuda, so I really appreciated being chosen.”
For the past four years he’s been the frontman of the Tino Martinez Quintet, the jazz band he formed with Dino “Richie” Richol, Raymond George, Torrey Tacklyn and Troy Washington.
Prior to that he’d played with several groups, and most recently was a member of DIA.
“I had never been a frontman,” he said. “During my last two years with DIA I was becoming more and more of a frontman without realising. Then I started to think about going out on my own. But it was a little scary to make that move.”
TMQ started out as a band for hire but soon began offering live performances. The first was at Daylesford Theatre, where they held “Sessions Popups” with a “jazz fusion” style.
“I had my doubts at first,” Mr Martinez said. “We were a new band and the public did not know what we were going to do. It was on Tuesday evenings and people have lives and families. I thought if we could get 25 people in the audience, that would be a positive number.”
He hit the target and, at the next performance, they had 35 people.
“Then I don’t know what happened, because all of a sudden we had more than 100 people,” Mr Martinez said. “Now, we typically have 125 people.”
One of their regulars in the audience is veteran jazz musician and teacher Wendell “Shine” Hayward.
“He comes to all our shows and gives us advice all the time,” Mr Martinez said. “He tells us to keep up the great work and stick with it. He always says ‘keep it saxy’.”
At City Hall this month the band will perform jazz standards, Japanese jazz and original songs by themselves and their honoured guests: jazz musicians such as Gita Blakeney Saltus, Derek Simmons Sr, Conrad Roach and Wendell “Shine” Hayward, who “comes to all of our shows”.
“We want to give them their flowers while they are here and let them know that we want to continue what they started back then,” Mr Martinez said. “We want to thank them for paving the way.”
He grew up in Houston, Texas and started playing the piano in middle school but at age 11 switched to the saxophone, mostly led by his mother, Judith Smith.
“My first choice was the drums, but when the director explained that I had to learn the entire percussion family, my mother thought that was a lot, and it was too much banging around her head,” he said. “His second choice was the trumpet, but she thought its three valves might make it too difficult.”
He did not want to play the flute or clarinet and was not interested in brass, so he eventually settled on the saxophone.
Music won him a partial scholarship to attend Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“I was in the Human Jukebox Marching Band,” he said. “It is the world’s greatest marching band. In fact, they came to Bermuda in 1998 for the Heritage Day Parade but I wasn’t with them at that time, because I was still a kid.”
He would love to bring the band back to Bermuda; its current leader is an old classmate.
“We are still trying to work out how to do that,” he said.
His true love in university was science. Mr Martinez studied clinical laboratory sciences and organisational management.
After graduation, he was part of a reggae-roots fusion band called Idiginis, touring Texas, Colorado, and California. He also got some experience working as a clinical scientist.
“Then in 2015, I decided the US had a lot of hustle and bustle and stress, and I needed to relocate,” he said.
He chose Bermuda because his late maternal grandmother, Albertha “Poonie” Gooby, was Bermudian and he had many relatives still on the island.
He now works at Hope Healthcare on Woodbourne Avenue.
“I am a clinical lab scientist by day and a musician by night,” he said.
Mr Martinez performs with “Dazzle”, a specially customised saxophone made by C. E. Winds in California. It has more than 5,000 Swarovski crystals on it in Rastafarian colours of red, gold and green.
On Thursday TMQ begin a regular gig at The Loren with performances at 8pm every other week. Tickets range from $20 to $300 and are available on www.ptix.bm.
Tickets are $30 for TMQ’s Dalyesford show on January 24 from 6.30pm.
Tickets to the gala at City Hall are $150 per person and include cocktails and an after party with food and drink.
For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3kih3jG. Follow Tino Martinez on Instagram: @tinomartinezsax