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 allmusic.com
the Official Medeski Martin & Wood Web Site www.mmw.net
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
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
- 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.
out this live footage of Medeski, Martin, & Wood playing "New
Vintage keyboards in Effect: Wurlitzer,
Arp String Ensemble, Moog,
you are a Medeski, Martin & Wood fan then perhaps you will enjoy
my CD as well.
Bystander is my alter ego of hardcore funky electronica.
Released in 2000, this CD was featured prominently in MTV
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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