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Pedro Martins Goes from Victory to Vox

A contest win leads to a musical partnership for the guitarist

Guitarist Pedro Martins
Pedro Martins (photo: Heartcore Records)

When 21-year-old Pedro Martins took top honors in the 2015 Socar Montreux Jazz Electric Guitar Competition, the payoff came with multiple prizes, including a monetary award, a recording session, and official mentorship time. The biggest reward, however, turned out to be the enduring friendship he would come to form with fellow guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel, who presided over the jury that unanimously crowned Martins the winner. Their bond would ultimately lead to the completion and recent release of Martins’ entrancing Vox on Rosenwinkel’s Heartcore Records imprint.   

The meeting between these two outsized talents in Montreux was something of a full-circle event for Martins, who, thanks to some listening advice from friend and mentor Daniel Santiago, became infatuated with Rosenwinkel’s music as a teenager growing up in Brazil. “Daniel was playing Kurt’s music for me when I was 13,” Martins recalls, “and he connects to things at such a deep level that you can hear the music through his ears and experiences.” The Socar competition brought these two kindred spirits into an orbit of mutual respect, but it was in a peculiar, seemingly preordained moment—when Martins started playing Rosenwinkel some music from the elder’s 2017 album, Caipi, prior to that album’s existence—that the relationship was truly cemented.

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Dan Bilawsky

Dan Bilawsky has been involved in jazz journalism for 15 years. His work has appeared in JazzTimes, JAZZed, and All About Jazz, among other outlets. In addition, he’s penned liner notes for artists on Red, Capri, HighNote/Savant, Ropeadope, and other respected imprints. A band director with 20 years of teaching experience, he holds degrees in music from Indiana University, the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and Five Towns College.