Q&A with Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Jerry Martini - original founder and saxophonist of Sly & the Family Stone

"The music of that time {Sly's} brought everybody together. The world however is constantly changing."

Jerry Martini: Soul To Soul

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Jerry Martini, aka Papa J is the original founder of Sly & the Family Stone. Calling upon Sly Stone to become the leader of the first inter-racial, multi-gender major American Band. He has also performed with countless luminaries including Mike Bloomfield, Carlos Santana, Rolling Stone Bill Wyman, Robert Cray, Willie Lomax, Prince, Graham Central Station, and Van Morrison. He is avid in horn arrangements as well as song writing including "One With the Sun" on Santana's "Barbaletta album among others.

Jerry Martini, 2012 / Photos by Joseph C. Tremain Jr.

Through the millennial New Year, he, along with Cynthia Robinson and Larry Graham, played with Prince on his 1999/2000 New Year's Pay Per View special "Rave Un2 2000". Capping "The Jam of the Year" tour taking them worldwide through Europe and the US to over 50 stops.  More recently, he has been seen on the 2006 Grammy Awards with a cast of All Stars in their tribute to Sly & The Family Stone.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Soul, Funk and R&B music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I grew up with Soul, Funk and R&B, it has been a major part of my life as long as I can remember.

What were the reasons that make the 1960s to be the center of Soul, Rock, Blues researches and experiments?

The 1960's was the American Renaissance period, Sly was a major part of it. He was a visionary man who could see beyond the limitations that were present in those days. Sly loved all music and was able to send a message to all people, all races, all genders.

How do you describe your sound? What would you say characterizes S&FS in comparison to other bands?

Our music reached out to everybody, the lyrics, innovated rhythms, was played by the "Soul Stations" then the "Pop Stations".

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

So many acquaintances were important to me starting with the members of the band. The list is too long to write today but many of the big Jazz names like Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and all of the soul greats like James Brown, Ray Charles, Junior Walker, and all of the "Big Bands" that came before us. Best advice was from Sly who told me to just be myself and not try to sound like someone else.

"What I have learned is that nothing last forever, Woodstock will never be duplicated and the young people will always have new heroes and we are blessed to still have fan base of people that still love our music." (Photo: Jerry Martini on stage with Sly & The Family Stone)

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

The sessions from 1967-1971 were the most dynamic. CBS in NY, CBS in SF, The Record Plant in Sausalito Ca, were amazing, our first hit single Dance To The Music recorded at CBS in NY was so much fun.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss playing with all of the original members of the band the most, that defined our sound. I'm 77 and still playing the music written by Sly, my hope is to keep going, I want to "bop till I drop". Not thinking about the fears, just want to be strong enough to keep playing my horn.

What has made you laugh and what touched (emotionally) you from the famous Woodstock '69 festival?

Woodstock, hmm, I laughed because it was such a huge mess and everybody was "so high"…. When we finally came on stage after waiting for six hours, the response of all those people made the on my arms stand up, soon many people.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your paths in music circuits?

What I have learned is that nothing last forever, Woodstock will never be duplicated and the young people will always have new heroes and we are blessed to still have fan base of people that still love our music.

What is the impact of music and 1960 culture to the racial, political, and socio-cultural implications?

The music of that time {Sly's} brought everybody together. The world however is constantly changing.

"The 1960's was the American Renaissance period, Sly was a major part of it. He was a visionary man who could see beyond the limitations that were present in those days. Sly loved all music and was able to send a message to all people, all races, all genders."

(Photo: Sly & The Family Stone)

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

I have too many places I want to go to name one place, mostly in Europe.

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