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Witch Hunt (new music video)

GABRIELA MARTINA – “NO WHITE SHOES” (new album out now)

Great art often arises out of transition and displacement. For the extraordinary Swiss-born, Boston/New York-based vocalist GABRIELA MARTINA creating a body of original music in her new setting has meant grappling with big questions and forging a singular sound out of a disparate array of influences, from jazz, funk and pop to gospel and Alpine roots music. Slated for release in spring 2015, Martina’s arresting and utterly personal debut album No White Shoes introduces a rapidly evolving artist steeped in jazz but unfettered by the music’s prevailing conventions.

Having performed with Meshell Ndegeocello, Jack DeJohnette, and Angelique Kidjo, recorded with veteran drummer J.R. Robinson and performed at 2009 Montreux Jazz Festival with guitarist Lee Ritenour’s band as a semi-finalist in the Shure Voice Competition, Martina has cultivated a powerfully evocative sound with her crystalline voice. Though No White Shoes includes a couple of brilliantly interpreted jazz standards, Martina focuses on improvisation-laced originals that combine singer/songwriter introspection with sophisticated harmonies. Informed and inspired by the quietly tumultuous process of acculturation, she uses music as a vehicle to wrestle with her protean identity.

The album opens with “Narcissus,” a song which elaborates on the symbolism of the album’s striking cover art, with Martina’s face obscured by a mirror. More than a source of expression, Martina’s music is a vehicle for hard-won self-knowledge.


Sassy, mesmerizing, and tinged with funk, the celebratory “No White Shoes” speaks to Martina’s eagerness to break free from mainstream conventions. As it builds to an ecstatic climax, it’s easy to see why this plea and declaration became the album’s centerpiece. Conceived as a rejection of Switzerland’s cozy cultural cocoon, the song speaks to Martina’s insistence on hewing to her own path, wherever she happens to reside.

“In Switzerland everything is so comfortable and so beautiful on the surface,” Martina says. “It’s a song about breaking boundaries and questioning traditions and musical conventions. It’s a positive message. It stands for new ways, for something other than the mainstream, for being your own self, and walking your own way, which for me is barefoot.”

More than a singer/songwriter, Martina is also a savvy bandleader who has attracted a core band featuring some of Boston’s finest players. A working ensemble for about four years, her band is built upon the supple rhythmic support of drummer Alex Bailey, a player with the chops to join heavyweights like Oscar Peterson and David “Fuze" Fiuczynski. He forms a potent rhythm section tandem with another rising young Boston star and recent Berklee grad Kyle Miles on acoustic and electric bass, a highly versatile player who has accompanied Angelique Kidjo, Patrice Rushen, Greg Osby, and Roy Hargrove, among many others.

The brilliant Czech-born pianist Jiri Nedoma, a prolific accompanist who has collaborated with the Grammy Award-winning drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and vocalist Gabrielle Goodman, brings a probing harmonic sensibility and canny use of space into the ensemble. And internationally raised Finnish guitarist Jussi Reijonen, whose credits include work with drum star Jack DeJohnette, flamenco legend Pepe de Lucia, Palestinian oud/violin master Simon Shaheen, and fretless guitar pioneer David Fiuczynski, reaches effortlessly across genre conventions.

Gabriela_Martina_09Born in Lucerne, Switzerland, Martina was no stranger to urban settings before moving to Boston. But she spent her childhood in a bucolic idyll, amidst a family dairy farm surrounded by orchards. The third of four children in a tight-knit working class family, she grew up in a highly musical environment. At the age of five, she discovered her passion for singing while yodeling with her family’s traditional Swiss group.

Realizing her calling to perform, she studied music in high school, and spent one year in London at the Vocaltech Music School. Drawn to African-American music, she spent several years studying at the Jazzschool in Lucerne, all the while saving money to come study in the United States. In the meantime she became a ubiquitous presence on the Swiss scene, performing with an array of bands (including Talking Loud, Soulvirus, and the pop-rock group PinkBliss), the electro/urban trio Aromat, an a cappella duo Not2help, and her own jazz duo with pianist Luzia von Wyl. She never gave up on her ambition to study jazz at its source.

Thriving during her two years at Berklee College of Music, she had the opportunity to perform and collaborate with heavyweights like Meshell Ndegeocello, Jack DeJohnette, and Angelique Kidjo. She recorded with veteran drummer J.R. Robinson and performed at 2009 Montreux Jazz Festival with guitarist Lee Ritenour’s band as a semi-finalist in the Shure Voice Competition.

Martina released a critically hailed EP in 2010, Curiosity, which included her original song “Ain’t Nobody”, a finalist in the ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Awards 2012. Performing around US East Coast and beyond, she honed her original repertoire with her band at clubs around the region, particularly The Beehive in Boston, MA.

Her new album No White Shoes, 2016, represents a major step in the singer’s sojourn as a 21st century musician exploring an array of influences, styles and issues, a journey that’s intoxicating and utterly unpredictable.



"“Gabriela Martina’s Swiss roots offer an incredible range as she practically yodels her way through “Narcissus” en route to her mostly originals program on No White Shoes (Self Release; 55:42****). Her delivery is a blend of jazz with pop improvisation, and her creative, invested covers of Wayne Shorter’s “Witch Hunt” (stunningly sung as overdubbed a cappella) and Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night In Tunisia” (a flat-out rocker featuring guitarist Jussi Reijonen) uproot convention.”

–Downbeat, John Ephland

""Re-workings of the canon like this reveals both the genius of the composer and the interpreter. Let's hope this is just the beginning, with more of this same sophisticated music to come."

-C.Michael Bailey

""Gabriela Martina’s music absolutely shines with many moments of intensity, but every so often you are privy to that elusive moment of the music’s whispered breath and being."

-Raul da Gama,
Jazz Global Media, Canada

“The compositions are stand-outs. Exceptionally powerful. And she is the perfect vessel.”

– Trish Hennessy, Hybrid Jazz

“Gabriela has the unique ability to send the listener on a sonic ride through beautiful vocals backed up by tight orchestration. It’s beyond easy on the ears .. it’s an elegance that captures the best of where jazz is today and why it was created in the first place. Gabriela is a talent that shines on today and will continue to dazzle as her career marches on confidently like a soaring song she puts her touch on.”

- Joe Dimino – Neon Jazz Radio - Kansas City, MO

"“One of the most exciting albums to come out this year so far! It is a delightful fusion of jazz, jazz rock, and folk jazz. Definitely a voice to look out for in the future.”

-Ruth Fisher

" “I can’t recall hearing such a beautiful and unique voice as Gabriela’s. I would call her the Enya of jazz”

– Randy McElliot, from Radio

" "The songwriting and singing both recall Joni Mitchell-one of pop music's greatest eclectic artists....An impressive debut. Martina has a contemporary sound-similar to artists like Gretchen Parlato or even Norah Jones-but with more emphasis on her own songwriting.It's a potent blend of jazz and pop, stamped with her own personality and aided by a strong backing band."

- Mark Sullivan
All About Jazz

"“Young Swiss-born Gabriela Martina is one of the most intriguing female jazz vocalists to step on to the jazz landscape lately. Presenting crisp, high-reaching vocals on a host of fresh, modern and funk-styled jazz originals and re-imagined standards, her debut album, “No White Shoes,” delivers a powerful musical introduction to a gifted singer who, we are certain, to hear much more of, in the future.”

–Edward Blanco Producer and Host of “Jazz Café” at WDNA, 88.9FM in Miami, FL and writer with

"“Gabriela’s well-crafted compositions have a pop catchiness, but retain an essential jazz feel; her vocals are confident, and the musical backup is excellent. Guitarist Jussi Reijonen is a standout, especially on Narcissus and A Night in Tunisia.”

-Charles Husson, Host-Evening Jazz,
Hawai’i Public Radio

"“The one to really raise the eyebrows is an almost Queen-like read with electrical guitars on a roller coaster ride during “A Night In Tunisia” while pulling out the passion plugs on a delicate piano duet on “Thirsty Flower.” A wonderful white knuckler.”

– George Harris
Jazz weekly

"“Female jazz singers with a timbre, an expressiveness, a voice range and such a feeling for real good songs you'll find not so often at the moment. Gabriela Martina's voice is swinging upwards in the highest heights, and in the next moment she's trying some scat-singing. Amazing!”

-Rainer Bratfisch
, Jazz Podium, Germany

""Swiss-born vocalist Gabriela Martina’s debut album No White Shoes is a compelling showcase of diverse sound, and a marvelous voice. At its core, the album is bebop jazz infused with contemporary techno and rock, all held together by Martina’s impressive range. She can go from a somber to ecstatic sound in an instant.”

-Dave Luhrssen,
Express Milwaukee, Milwaukee

“A little Brazilian, a little nu jazz, a little cabaret, a little rock—it all mashes up nicely as she crafts her own design.[…] After hours music that really sounds good any time at all.”

– Chris Spector –
Midwest Record

""No White Shoes offers an impressive range of musical settings for Gabriela Martina’s agile voice in her originals and her unexpected takes on jazz standards. Of note are the gorgeous layered a cappella vocals in her treatment of Wayne Shorter’s “Witch Hunt,” the mood swings from the introspective “Us”and “Love Me” to the r&b bump of the title song, and a rocked up take on Dizzy’s “A Night in Tunisia.” Throughout, Gabriela scats liberally while also generously sharing solo time with her very capable band members. The album is a strong showing for Gabriela."

-Mark Small
Editor BerkleeToday magazine

""Some artists hit you on a wave-length that is a natural one for you, and do it with such flair and verve that you are hooked into the music for good and all. […] poetic, sophisticated harmonically and melodically, with some rock/jazz overtones and a general unpredictability in the best sense.”

- Grego Applegate Edwards

"“Gabriela is from Switzerland but is now resident in the USA. Her vocal range is on display to marvellous effect on this release with very stylish backing from all the musicians particularly Jussi Reijonen. It’s important to keep the faith on this fine musical mix for a true appreciation of what is on offer. I was particularly impressed with the manner in which Wayne Shorter’s Witch Hunt was tackled – the multi tracked choral effect is marvellous. A Night In Tunisia stands out also bringing a anew dimension to what is an oft covered classic. Of the originals on the album Narcissus stands out & is a most positive lead track. The amount of styles & freedom on the various tracks will overwhelm some listeners so patience is the key for complete appreciation of this fine work.”

-Sean Brophy
Jazz Mine presenter /producer Saturdays 5PM or

“Gabriela Martina is most definitely a force to be reckoned with. She has been compared to Norah Jones and Joni Mitchell, but personally I don’t get that. Martina doesn’t sound like an artiste who’s ‘flirting’ with jazz, she is the real thing, the body and soul of jazz. Her music is forceful, but sensitive, in a way that reminds me of Annette Peacock, surely our greatest living female jazz composer and performer.”

-Richard Pearson
– ENTERTAINMENT Radio, Scarborough, UK

" “There are slight similarities to other’s working in the modern jazz genre, but none which subtract from the singular phrasing and insight that Gabriela Martina brings to her artistry. Whether weaving original multi-layered vocal lines to classics such as Wayne Shorter’s Witch Hunt or distinctively re-interpreting Dizzy Gillespie’s A Night in Tunisia, Ms. Martina makes a strong case for her own brand of imaginatively refreshing jazz. “

– John Hammell
Homegrown RadioNJ

"Martina's take of "A Night In Tunisia" is the most powerful I've heard since Chaka Khan recorded it in 1981!"

-Jerry Gordon
Serenade to a Cuckoo WPRB 103.3 FM, Princeton University

"“What a breath of fresh air! Brilliant songwriter. This CD deserves more attention worldwide! “

– Bradley M. Stone,
Host: “The Creative Source,” Radio

"A great vocal jazz CD with excellent original tracks and superb versions. Especially the well-known Gillespie’s “A night in Tunisia” is a magic track with overflowing pop, jazz and rock elements. A true surprise!"


... I had the pleasure of performing with Gabriela Martina at the 7th Shure Jazz Voice Competition, hosted by the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2009. Gabriela is an outstanding arranger and vocalist. Her talent and skills have exposed her to many respected and wellknown musicians..."

-Patrice Rushen
Composer/Producer/International Recording Artist/Pianist/ Educator
"It is with great pleasure to be assured that Gabriela is continuing her quest of intense determination to create original music of taste and uniqueness. Her recent recordings confirms her relentless work!"

-Joe Sample
Composer/Pianist (The Crusaders, Tina Turner, B.B. King, Eric Clapton)
“...when I say Gabriela Martina is in an elite class I say it because she has achieved it by playing hundreds of gigs where the real playing is taking place and she has lived the “Music Life”, performing and composing around the world, playing Jazz with a unique blend of world influences...”

-Jamey Haddad
Percussionist (Paul Simon, Joe Lovano, Dave Liebman)
“Gabriela Martina’s participation in a musical project challenges everyone to reach for the next level, she is constantly inspiring the musicians she performs with to do their best work.”

-Joe Mulholland
Pianist, recording artist, composer, teacher & Chair of the Harmony Department of Berklee College of Music
“It takes a strong person, and a unique artist, to work their way through it. From my experience in the industry, and with Gabriela personally [...] I believe she has what it takes.“

-David Greenberg
Director of Marketing – Ted Kurland Associates


  • Gabriela Martina: Narcissus (official music video)
  • Gabriela Martina: Love Me (live)
  • Gabriela Martina: A Night in Tunisia (live)
© Gabriela Martina 2013. All rights reserved.