Vintage Keyboard Instruments

Great Electronic Keyboard Players

Herbie Hancock
Joe Zawinul
Bernie Worrell
Brian Eno
Peter Gabriel
Keith Emerson
Chick Corea
Sly Stone
John Medeski
Liam Howlett
Stevie Wonder
Thomas Dolby
Steve Winwood

Electronic Music Guide

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John Medeski : Medeski, Martin & Wood

Great Electronic Keyboard Players

medeski, martin & wood
John Medeski: Medeski, Martin & Wood

A group that effortlessly straddles the gap between avant-garde improvisation and accessible groove-based jazz, Medeski, Martin, & Wood have simultaneously earned standings as relentlessly innovative musicians and an enormously popular act. Emerging out of the New York downtown scene in the early '90s, the group soon set out on endless cross-country tours, before returning home to Manhattan to further refine their sound through myriad influential experimentations.

Each of the musicians -- keyboardist John Medeski, drummer/percussionist Billy Martin, and bassist Chris Wood -- crossed paths throughout the '80s, playing with the likes of John Lurie, John Zorn, and Martin mentor Bob Moses. In 1991, the trio officially convened for an engagement at New York's Village Gate. Soon, the group was rehearsing in Martin's loft, writing, and soon recording 1992's self-released Notes From the Underground. As the group began to tour, escaping the supportive, though insular, New York music community, Medeski -- a former child prodigy -- switched to a Hammond B-3 organ, an instrument far easier to travel with than a grand piano.

Grammavision released It's a Jungle in Here in 1993, which featured horn arrangements by future Sex Mob founder (and pan-scenester) Steven Bernstein. The medley of Thelonius Monk's "Bemsha Swing" and Bob Marley's "Lively Up Yourself" spoke volumes about what the band was attempting to accomplish. Friday Afternoon in the Universe, widely considered the band's breakthrough record, further continued the push toward groove-oriented accessibility, a movement which peaked with the group's 1996 Rykodisc debut, Shack-man (recorded entirely in the band's practice shack in the Maui jungle). By 1996, through a combination of endless touring and two widely circulated live collaborations with Phish, the group caught in the burgeoning jam band scene, where they continue to draw the bulk of their audience outside of New York.

Late in 1996, the group began a public return their avant-garde roots, hosting a series of weekly "Shack Parties" at New York's Knitting Factory, which featured collaborations with many musicians, including Vernon Reid and DJ Logic, who would soon become the group's unofficial fourth member. The trio issued the extremely free (and utterly beautiful) Farmer's Reserve on their own Indirecto imprint in 1997, a series of improvisations recorded at the Shack. Logic soon joined the band on the road, and they prepared to record Combustication, their first effort for Blue Note, as well as their first full-length collaboration with producer Scott Harding.

In 2000, the band made their coming-out as leaders with two releases -- the live acoustic Tonic (recorded at the New York City club of the same name), as well as the electric The Dropper (recorded at the band's newly christened Shacklyn Studios in the trendy DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn) -- as well as an acclaimed Halloween performance at Manhattan's Beacon Theater. The Dropper featured Harding's gritty production, as well as appearances by Sun Ra alum Marshall Allen.

The band's reputation has achieved massive proportions. As they always have, the three core bandmembers contributed to numerous other recording projects, both as sidemen and leaders. Increasingly, their word was gold and their efforts carved paths for musicians to follow. Following their rise, for example, was a renaissance in B-3-based organ trios. Many groups had played with DJs before them, but their performances with Logic made it downright fashionable. Though they were -- and are -- considered "alternative" jazz, they were drawing larger audiences than many of their mainstream counterparts.--Bio Courtesy of

Visit the Official Medeski Martin & Wood Web Site

SHACK MAN - Released in 1996, Shack-man may be the quintessential MMW disc. From the opening cover of the traditional spiritual "Is There Anyone Here that Love My Jesus" to the mellow swirls of the closing "Kenny," the emphasis is on the almighty groove; though John Medeski (here pumping everything from Hammond B-3s to toy pianos) and bassist Chris Wood are much flashier players, it's drummer Billy Martin who really gets (and keeps) the party going. The laid-back, sunshine-and-palm-trees vibe of Hawaii (where Shack-man was recorded) creeps into some of the tracks, but the overall feel is more New Orleans than Waikiki.
THE DROPPER - "Jazz is the teacher. Funk is the preacher." It's a maxim upon which Medeski Martin and Wood have built a career. On The Dropper, they just happen to be doing a lot more preaching than teaching. Drenched in a gauzy fuzz, this disc scatters thumping beats, wild solos, and eerie, shadowed melodies across a landscape of cavernous groove. Although it's certainly not as accessible as earlier dance-friendly efforts, The Dropper is even more to wrap a brain around.
UNINVISIBLE - It's possible to admire Medeski Martin and Wood's craft and guile in pushing against stylistic restraints while recognizing that their music isn't quite as much fun as it once was--or that this hugely popular trio may think it is. Full of shaggy cross-textures, plummy grooves, and spooky electronic underpinnings, Uninvisible is a lively sonic stew. Once a universe unto themselves, keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin, and bassist Chris Wood continue to smartly expand their jam-band base, here featuring a brash five-piece horn section from the Brooklyn-based Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, turntablists DJ Olive and DJ P Love, and, for a spoken-word number, craggy-voiced Southern rock eccentric Col. Bruce Hampton. When Medeski is riding that Hammond organ and the group is taking its patented soulful detours, as on "Pappy Check" and the Booker T-ish "Smoke," all is right with the world. But even with Medeski dabbling on a roomful of other instruments, including the Mellotron, mini-Moog, and Arp, the songs don't have a lot of variety. And crowded with effects, the music can bog down in its own abstract logic--though there's no resisting the ping-pong game being played on "Off the Table." The chief rewards of Uninvisible are in the details. Until further notice, a headphone advisory is in effect.
Check out this live footage of Medeski, Martin, & Wood playing "New Planet".
Vintage keyboards in Effect: Wurlitzer, Arp String Ensemble, Moog, Clavinet, Hammond B3

If you are a Medeski, Martin & Wood fan then perhaps you will enjoy my CD as well.

Innocent Bystander is my alter ego of hardcore funky electronica. Released in 2000, this CD was featured prominently in MTV Road Rules.

The music infuses elements of Drum-n-Bass, Techno, Reggae, and Funk all with a unifying B-3 organ throughout. Innocent Bystander transcends the space time continuum from 70's funk to the new millennium by perfectly melding the computerized sounds of the new electronica with the raw human feel of old school soul and funk.
It's as if Sly Stone and Jimmy Smith were genetically combined with the Chemical Brothers and Fat Boy Slim! There is even a cover of Sly Stone's "Sing A Simple Song". The result is music for your mind and your ass. It's Medeski, Martin, and Wood on a futuristic tour around Jupiter.

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