Federico Martinez III grew up in an extremely musical family; here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Both his father and grandfather, Carmelito Velez, were talented musicians. Having his musical influence from birth, he too wanted to be part of the beautiful music his family created. At 2 years old, little Freddy would stand up on stage with his grandfather playing the maracas. In elementary school, Freddy’s first instrument was the trumpet. He played with the Blue Devils marching band for one year.
In the 4th grade, Freddy enrolled in the school band, but there were no trumpets available to rent. Always loving the saxophone, his mother asked if he would try it for one week and if he didn’t like it, she would find him a trumpet. Freddy hesitated at first and was upset that he couldn’t play the trumpet like his cousin Bill Ortega Jr. Eventually, Freddy agreed to try the sax and he too fell in love with the smooth, rich sounds only a saxophone could produce.
Freddy began playing classical saxophone at the age of 8 years old. Shortly after, he discovered jazz and played that as well throughout his school years. He participated in many honor bands all over the state, winning many different awards and scholarships.
Growing up as one of Carmelito Velez’s grandsons, it was only natural for him to become part of the family band, “Son Siete”; at 13 years old. Two years later he started playing in another family incorporated band named Orquesta Borinquen, and has been with them for the past 12 years at many different venues all over the Bay Area.
Freddy also has had the privilege of playing with salsa greats such as Melocohita, Hector Tricoche and the merengue sensation Oro Solido.