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Martin Committee was the trademark name of the Martin Band Instrument Company's premier lines of trumpets and saxophones starting in the mid-1930s. The firm produced band instruments, including trumpets, cornets, fluegelhorns, trombones, and saxophones from 1908 to the 1960s. The Martin Committee trumpets and saxophones were favorites of jazz musicians. All were produced in Elkhart, Indiana. In the post-WWII era the Martin Committee saxophones were simply branded "The Martin (saxophone type)," with the "Committee" designation returning later.
The Martin Committee trumpet was originally designed in the late 1930s by the legendary Renold Schilke with play testing and feedback by a "committee" of diverse players and teachers. Schilke always maintained that the horn was actually designed "by a committee of one."
The first advertisement for the Martin Committee ran in the December 1, 1940 issue of Down Beat. It listed the committee as follows:
- Fred Berman, popular radio staff star, probably the busiest trumpet player and teacher in Boston.
- Bunny Berigan, soloist and band leader
- M. Thomas Cousins, of the National Symphony Orchestra
- Dana Garrett, formerly cornet soloist of the Sousa Band - now first trumpet, Capitol Theatre, Washington, D.C.
- Rafael Mendez, Hollywood artist
- Jimmy Neilson, Band Director and Instrumental Instructor, Oklahoma City University - an outstanding trumpet and cornet artist.
- Renold Schilke, one of the most highly skilled artists in America, first trumpet with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
- Otto Kurt Schmeisser, formerly with the Boston and Detroit Symphony Orchestras, later a successful teacher in Detroit.
- Charlie Spivak, rated "tops" by everybody who knows - now heading his own fine combination.
- Charlie Teagarden, soloist and brother of bandleader Jack Teagarden
The input of the committee was taken into consideration during the Committee trumpet's design process.
The horn became widely adopted in jazz music because of its warm, rich sound and flexible intonation. It has a unique sound that has been described as "dark and smokey".
Miles Davis played custom-made Committees throughout his career. Other notable players include Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Chet Baker, Lee Morgan, Maynard Ferguson, Art Farmer, Wallace Roney, and Chris Botti.
When the rights to the Martin brand were purchased by Leblanc in 1971, the Committee designs were discontinued and the name given to trumpets of a different design produced at a new Martin facility in Kenosha, Wisconsin. These horns were produced until 2007, when the Martin brand was dropped by Conn-Selmer, who had purchased Leblanc in 2004.
A new model of Martin saxophone named Handcraft Committee was introduced in 1936, replacing the Handcraft Imperial model. This series, often referred to as "Committee I" today, has art-deco engraving depicting an urban skyline with searchlights sweeping the sky as an airplane flies through. These are informally called "Martin skyline" and "Martin searchlight" horns.
In 1939 a new design was introduced named Handcraft Committee II, sometimes called "Lion and Crown" after the new engraving design. It was not engraved "Committee"; "Comm. II" was stamped on the rear of the body tube.
In 1945 Martin introduced a new model that gained favor among R&B and rock & roll players for its dynamic sound properties. The "Handcraft" name was dropped and the horns were branded "The Martin (saxophone type);" the "Committee" name was engraved on some examples from the late 1950s on. Other variations in engraving include the "RMC" initials on horns produced from 1961-64. It is sometimes called "Committee III" today to disambiguate it from other Martin saxophones. Production continued until the early 1970s when Leblanc, who had bought Martin from Wurlitzer in 1971, discontinued the Martin saxophone designs and began applying the Martin name to Yanagisawa Model 6 saxophones.
Martin introduced the Committee trombone in 1939. The committee that designed it, chaired by Chuck Campbell, also consisted of Miff Mole, Jack Jenney, Al Angelotta, Andy Russo, Al Philburn, Phil Giardina, Lloyd Turner, and Charlie Butterfield. It was available in medium bore with a 7-inch (18 cm) bell and medium large bore with a 7 1⁄2-inch (19 cm) bell. A "De Luxe" model was later added featuring nickel silver trim.
- Retail Price List, Martin Handcraft Band Instruments, Elkhart, Indiana: The Martin Band Instrument Co., October 1, 1939