Marty Shellar/ trumpet/ composer/arranger/ Columbia University alumnus -1940-2022
Marty made his professional debut in 1958, playing a summer gig with Porcelli, Schwartzman, and drummer Wilbur Bailey at the Woodbine Hotel in the Catskill Mountains. As young adults, they were passionate about the emerging music of Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Horace Silver and John Coltrane, and that summer was spent transcribing and playing songs from their recordings.
It saddens me to know that after decades of admiring this humble musician, I finally reached out and connected with this musician, then a bevy of circumstances hit me, a bout with health, and a two-year shutdown from the Pandemic. consequentially, I never got to interview him as I wanted for years, decades even.
This goes back to my days in high school as a jazz student. I was starting to listen to Latin jazz groups along with Bop and Hard bop groups in mid 1960s. I ran across this album by Mongo Santamaria “La Bamba”, which was a title track for a Ritchie Valens hit from 1959. That particular band had a strong cast of musicians playing in that band, such as pianist Rogers Grant, saxophonist Bobby Capers, Marty Shellar on trumpet, plus, another name that had a rich talent pool of a family, Hubert Laws tenor/flutes/baritone sax. banging tune after tune of commercial songs with a latin-twist on it giving them the full Monte as far as the Clave. Mongo had high praise for his band arranger/composer Marty Shellar, along with pianist Rogers Grant helped propelled that band. I became a fan for life.
On September 17,2022, I read this wonderful man had passed. It still bothers me that, I never got to deep interview this guy and now, I have to at least acknowledge his genius for so many years in music. see http://www.martyshellar.com Rest in heavenly peace. thanks for the memories. Every time I play this La Bamba album, I’m immediately shot back in time to my days as young saxophonist learning jazz by playing along with records in the practice rooms with my best friend on trumpet.
Alto saxophonist Bobby Porcelli and Marty Sheller had remained close friends since their college days at Columbia University, when Sheller and Porcelli could be heard practicing Charlie Parker–Dizzy Gillespie unison lines in Marty’s dorm room. A veteran of the bands of Hugo Dickens, Mongo Santamaria, Eddie Palmieri, Willie Colón and Ruben Blades, Bobby Porcelli was the featured soloist and lead alto player in the bands of Machito, Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez when these groups were known as the “Big Three” of New York’s Palladium Ballroom. His pedigree as a jazz player is no less distinguished, having worked with Buddy Rich, Don Sickler, Ted Curson, Duke Pearson, Kenny Dorham and Joe Henderson. A legend to three generations of New York saxophone players, his solo albums are “Rising” and “Bursting,” both on Italy’s Splasc(h) label. Porcelli is active with T.S. Monk, the Latin Giants of Jazz, the Big Three Palladium Orchestra, and the Arturo O’Farrill Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, all of whom feature his nonpareil solo playing.
Mongo had high praise for his band arranger/ composer, along with pianist Rogers Grant helped propelled that band . I became a fan for life . On September 17,2022, I read this wonderful man had passed. It still bothers me that, I never got to deep interview this guy and Now I have to at least acknowledge his genius for so many years in music. see http://www.martyshellar.com Rest in heavenly peace.. thanks for the memories.. every time I play this La Bamba album, I’m immediately shot back in time to my days as young saxophonist learning jazz by playing along with records in practice rooms with my best friend on trumpet. circa 1965.