The music of Henry Martin has been described by Paul Griffiths of The New York Times as "that of someone who knows and loves jazz to its bones (not discounting its flesh)." Griffiths notes that the pieces "respond to the long history of jazzing Bach by Baching jazz." Martin is in the forefront of composers dedicated to writing concert works that combine the flavors of jazz and popular music with classical forms. Martin's collection Preludes and Fugues (1990–2000) for piano has been performed by numerous pianists throughout the world. It won the 1992 National Composers Competition and the 1998 Barlow Foundation International Composition Competition. Martin then completed a cycle of preludes and fugues for organ (2007–2017), commissioned by Michael Barone, host of Pipedreams, a weekly program devoted to organ music distributed by American Public Media and widely heard on public radio stations nationwide. He also won the 2020 Pogorzelski-Yankee Competition sponsored by the American Guild of Organists. His CDs include Preludes and Fugues for organ (Volume 3 of Pipedreams Premieres, PD-1004), Selected Piano Music (Albany Records Troy1171), Preludes and Fugues (GM Recordings 2049), Preludes and Fugues, Part 2 (Bridge Records 9140), and Chamber Music for Strings and Piano (Albany Records Troy804).
Martin's books include Enjoying Jazz, Charlie Parker and Thematic Improvisation, Counterpoint, and Jazz: the First 100 Years, the latter co-authored with Keith Waters. His most recent book is Charlie Parker, Composer (Oxford University Press). He is also the author of numerous published papers on music theory and jazz.
Martin teaches composition, music theory, and music history at Rutgers University in Newark, where he is a professor of music. Among his teachers are David Del Tredici and Milton Babbitt. He holds a Ph. D. from Princeton University, an M. M. from the University of Michigan, a B. A. from Oberlin College, and a B. M. from Oberlin Conservatory.