You can’t just walk into a classroom to take class with Martell Irby. You have to tap, waltz or play your way in.
“It’s a select group of people that know that I’m here,” Irby quipped, shining his wry smile.
It’s not a secret, just a missed assumption. Can you blame the football world for it? Wouldn’t you think the guy that finished just shy of 2,000 total yards in 2016 would start his day hearing the first bell at Morse?
Instead, you have to go south to the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts.
Then you have to enter the jazz room.
Then you get to listen.
“I started playing music in the fourth grade,” Irby said. “I went to a music conservatory, and had to choose an instrument. I wanted to play the trumpet. They said they needed someone on the sax.
“It was always an interest...now it’s become a part of me.”
It’s a part that’s sent him across the United States, playing from San Francisco to New Orleans, and if his band works hard enough, to famous halls in New York City.
“It’s been able to help me grow,” Irby said. “[Music instructor] Dr. Reynolds always says we need to play from within and tell a story. Football is my crazy side, and this is where I get to relax. It’s my alter ego.”
Another type of play will soon send him places. A dozen schools are always vying for Irby’s services, the second in his household to receive such attention.
“My brother Daq plays for Nevada as a roving linebacker,” Irby said. “He has had such an impact in my life. He never took it easy on me, and made me the man I am today.”
4575 Viewridge Ave. San Diego, CA 92123