Martin Committee

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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 postwar era the Martin saxophones were branded simply "The Martin (saxophone type)" while trumpets continued to be branded "Committee."

Trumpet[edit]

The Martin Committee trumpet was originally designed in the late 1930s for the Martin Band Instrument Company by a "committee" of diverse players and teachers.

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 Berrigan, 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 Martin was purchased by Leblanc, the original Committee design was discontinued and a the name given to trumpets of a different design produced at Leblanc's Kenosha facility. These horns were produced until 2007, when the Martin brand was dropped by Conn-Selmer who had purchased Leblanc in 2004.

Vintage Martin Committee trumpets are highly sought after. Medium-bore versions from the 1940s-1960s frequently command well over $2000 on the popular online auction site. The large-bore versions often sell for over $3000.

Saxophones[edit]

A new model of Martin Handcraft saxophone was named "Handcraft Committee" in 1936, marking the transition between Martin's old and new trademark names. The Handcraft Committee, or "Committee I" saxophone has a distinctly small bell with spectacular art-deco engraving depicting an urban skyline with Lindbergh Beacons sweeping the sky as an airplane flies through. These are informally called "Martin skyline" and "Martin searchlight" horns.

In 1939 the Handcraft Committee design was modified for a deeper sound with a bigger bell, called the "Committee II," or "Lion and Crown" horns after the new engraving design.

In 1945 Martin modified the design again, resulting in a very dynamic, rich-sounding "Committee III" horn that gained favor among R&B and Rock&Roll players. The "Handcraft" name was dropped and the horns were branded "The Martin." Production of The Martin (Committee III) continued until some point in the mid-to-late 1960s when the Wurlitzer Corporation, who acquired Martin in 1964, discontinued the model and used "The Martin" as the name for cheaply-made Evette-Schaeffer type horns from Europe that have nothing in common with Martin-produced horns.

After the rights to the Martin name were acquired by Leblanc from Wurlitzer in 1971, Leblanc sold some Yanagisawa Model 6 saxophones as "The Martin." These horns have more in common with a Selmer Mark VI than with an American-made Martin.