What is your goal as an artist? Why do you create?
Music has always been at the center of my life. By playing I’m able to express my experience and connect with others, which brings me closer to the people and ideas that I love.
What is your main/favorite/most often used medium, and why did you choose it?
I play the saxophone, usually in bands of three to six musicians. I compose for these groups, and improvisation is always an element. Sometimes I use field recordings of places or people. I reference the musical traditions that are important to me – the blues, American folk music, Romantic and impressionist classical music, and the jazz avant-garde. I play piano and guitar to learn music from these traditions and develop my own sound. I also enjoy compiling recordings and sharing my favorite music with friends.
When did you begin your study of your art?
Two musicians in my family sparked a curiosity about playing when I was young. My great grandmother was a precise piano teacher who insisted on regular lessons that began when I was about nine years old. My father also played the piano and sang quiet improvised ballads, usually at night over cigarettes and coffee. I watched and imitated them both.
Are you working on a new series/theme now?
This year I’ve been working on a series of recordings that are based on seasons and places. I’ve also been working on an essay about history, culture, and curriculum in jazz education.
What people or other art influenced your work? Was it positive or negative influence?
Some of the mentors that have guided me in studying jazz and playing the saxophone are Gary Bartz, an amazing musician, Wendell Logan, who founded the jazz studies program at Oberlin Conservatory; and Forest Munden, my high school band director in North Carolina. My brother Elliott is a visual artist who I speak to often about making work. A very short list of musicians and artists that have been important to me recently: Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, Duke Ellington, Ahmad Jamal, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Eddie Harris, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Donald Byrd, Miles Davis, Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Steve Reich, Levon Helm, Neil Young, Townes van Zandt,
Blaze Foley, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Jean Michel Basquiat, Jackson Pollock, and Marcel Duchamp.
Do you do any kind of research for your art?
Of course, I listen to music all the time and read about the artists, history, and aesthetics that I’m interested in. I think of my other activities as a kind of research too – teaching, studying, writing, going to museums and shows, talking to other musicians and artists, and spending time in many different kinds of places.
How has the experience at Hambidge affected you or your work?
My time at Hambidge has been reflective. The setting and culture is quiet, which provides a nice
opportunity to spend time alone with the work and think through projects for the future.
What advice would you give to future residents at Hambidge?
If you could learn to do anything with a guarantee that you would not fail, what would you pick?
What are your top ten favorite things?
What was your favorite subject in school?
Tell me one random fact about you that I never would have guessed.
Martin Hundley is a saxophonist, composer, and educator living and working in New York City. Born in North Carolina, Martin attended Interlochen Arts Academy and holds a Bachelor of Music in jazz studies and saxophone performance from Oberlin Conservatory, where he studied with Gary Bartz, Donald Byrd, and Wendell Logan. He earned a Masters degree in arts education from Harvard University, focusing on topics of research, advocacy, and practice in music education, concept-based approaches to teaching improvisation, and promoting cultural exchange through performance. Martin has worked at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis to produce the national Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program and other resources that engage students, teachers, and public audiences. He has performed at the Museum of Modern Art PS1, Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center, The Knitting Factory, South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art, North Sea and Montreaux Jazz Festivals, and has also worked at The Special Music School (P.S. 859), The Jazz Standard, and Saturday
Night Live. His playing appears on recordings featured in an exhibition titled The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and presented at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. During 2011-12, Martin was named an alternate candidate in the Fulbright competition for study and research in the Netherlands and is an artist in residence at The Banff Centre for the Arts, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences.