Jazz musician and Steinway artist joins Jessup faculty

Jim Martinez hired as Music Department accompanist
By: Staff Report
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William Jessup University has hired pianist Jim Martinez as the accompanist for the Music Department. He will play an integral role for the University Choir and Orchestra that performs more than 30 times per year, according to a university press release.

Martinez will practice, perform and work with the more than 100 students in the Music Department.

“I want to share everything I’ve learned from my career and teach students,” said Martinez, who has studied classical music for 18 years and has an extensive jazz background. “I take the approach that every student is different. I look forward to working with the students individually and also in a group setting.”

Martinez has performed or recorded with numerous well-known jazz musicians, including Lionel Hampton, the Stan Kenton Alumni, Christian McBride, Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Benny Golson, Roy Hargrove and Ed Thigpen, the first drummer for the Oscar Peterson Trio.

“I’ve been able to work with some amazing jazz players,” said Martinez, who lists his parents, Dave Brubeck and Lionel Hampton as his major musical influences.

Martinez has also performed with the Sacramento Symphony and toured as a featured guest with the U.S. Air Force Jazz Band from Travis Air Force Base.

“He has this incredible performance career,” said Tom Ruscica, chair of the Music Department. “William Jessup has never had someone who represented the genre of jazz. It allows us to do some different things, especially if we want to try something in that style.”

Martinez is a Steinway Pianos Artist, a designation awarded by the piano company to elite pianists.

“It gives us a level of prestige having him on the WJU team,” said Ruscica, a fan and friend of Martinez.

Martinez, who has 12 CDs available on iTunes, started Invisible Touch Music Software in 1989. The company arranged and recorded files for digital and acoustic player-pianos, from classical to Dixieland music. He recently sold the company.

Martinez performs across the country with his jazz trio and as a soloist.

“I have always felt that music was my calling,” he said. “Music is my ministry, my livelihood.”

Martinez grew up in Fair Oaks. He and his wife, Suzy, have two sons and live in Rocklin.

For more information about William Jessup University, visit or call (916) 577-2200.