Jen Martinez-Bre (she/her) is a physically disabled Peruvian/Cuban-American percussionist, disability advocate,composer, and festival curator currently based in South Florida. Born in Miami, Jen seeks to pay homage to her Cuban and Peruvian roots along with the local melting pot of sounds around her. Jen was surrounded by the sounds of everything from Motown to salsa, to folkloric Afro-Peruvian music since she was in diapers.
“The Baronness of Latin Jazz”, as dubbed by Percussive Notes editor Gloria Yehilevsky, her performance style and initiatives have been commended by organizations such as the Gold Coast Jazz Society and the Percussive Arts Society in the form of scholarships and grants to continue her pursuits.
In her handful of years studying, Jen has either been on the bandstand with or been mentored by jazz luminaries such as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stefon Harris, Bria Skonberg, Regina Carter, Tony Miceli and Valery Ponomarev – not to mention being mentored by local Latin jazz hero, Hector Neciosup.
After a painful flare caused by her spine condition mid-way into her college studies, Jen began researching about her condition and other chronic illnesses and disabilities only to find that there is very little help and acknowledgement of these conditions found outside of the general chronic illness/chronic pain and/or disabled community, and the handful of specialists of these conditions worldwide. With this depressing statistic at hand, Jen seeks to bring more awareness of disabled and chronically ill lives through her music – and at any opportunity she can.
Jen previously served as the Treasurer for the non-profit organization, Modern Marimba. During her term, she curated the first women in jazz vibes festival, “VibeFest”, in March 2021. The festival included performers such as Lolly Allen, Chien Chien Lu, Cecilia Smith, Nikara Warren, and Morgan Walbridge. Jen also curated the first virtual showcase of singing percussionists, “Mallets+Voice Fest” in May of 2021. She also previously served as a subcommittee member for the Accessibility Committee for the Percussive Arts Society’s Diversity Alliance and currently serves as an Affiliate member of The Vibraphone Project.
This past year, Jen was interviewed for Percussive Notes magazine for their Feb 2021 edition. Topics ranged from disability advocacy, Afro-Latin jazz music, and the lack of appreciation of the origins of percussion in academia. More recently, Jen co-founded the ongoing translated interview/masterclass series “Mate Meetup in Espanglish” with Pauline Roberts to bridge the gap between the English and Spanish speaking music industry.