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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 as an enormously popular act. Emerging out of the New York downtown scene in the early '90s, MMW 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 -- had 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 then 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 rather than a grand piano.

Gramavision 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 Thelonious 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 move that 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 on in the burgeoning jam band scene, where they have continued to draw the bulk of their audience outside of New York.

Late in 1996, the group began a public return to its avant-garde roots, hosting a series of weekly "shack parties" at New York's Knitting Factory that featured collaborations with many musicians, including Vernon Reid and DJ Logic; the latter would soon become the group's unofficial fourth member. MMW 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 MMW prepared to record Combustication, their first effort for Blue Note, as well as their first full-length collaboration with producer Scott Harding. In 2000, MMW truly came out as leaders with a pair of releases -- the live acoustic Tonic (recorded at the New York City club of the same name) and 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. In 2006, the group released Out Louder, an album that saw the trio collaborate with John Scofield. Their music was also featured on Grey's Anatomy.

Radiolarians I, the first of three loosely linked albums, appeared in the fall of 2008 on the group's own Indirecto Records imprint. Radiolarians II and III followed a year later, as did the trio's box set entitled Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set, containing the trilogy, a disc of remixes by celebrated DJs, a live CD, a double-LP chosen from the three original albums, and a DVD documentary shot by Martin entitled Fly in a Bottle. At this stage of the band's nearly two-decade career, MMW's reputation has indeed achieved massive proportions.

As they always have, the three core bandmembers contribute to numerous other recording projects, both as sidemen and leaders. They are also recognized for carving paths that other musicians have followed -- for example, their rise in popularity contributed to a renaissance in B-3-based organ trios, and although many groups had played with DJs before them, MMW's performances with DJ Logic made it downright fashionable. And while still considered an "alternative" jazz group, Medeski, Martin & Wood continue to draw larger audiences than many of their mainstream counterparts. In 2011, MSMW Live: In Case the World Changes Its Mind was released by Indirecto Records. The double-length set was culled from the Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood 2006 world tour; its contents reflect material off Scofield's A Go Go and MSMW’s studio offering Out Louder. They also released 20, a collection of new songs and previously unrecorded older material. In 2012, MMW issued Free Magic, a live document of tunes taken from their 2007 acoustic tour. Its members concentrated on solo projects for the next year. On August 27, 2013 at Applehead Studios in Woodstock, New York in front of an intimate gathering of 75 ticket holders, MMW renewed their collaboration with guitarist Nels Cline. The recorded result, Woodstock Sessions 2, appeared in April of 2014. ~ Jesse Jarnow, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

These cats are into every genre of music on this planet !!!! Thanks fellas X
gketterman20 1 2
Have'nt heard this in a few years. I like.
kyle.wackenh e i m
Saw these guys twice in college. Love em
Go see these guys live. It will change your outlook on music. Thanks mmw for keepin that funky jazz alive
Digging this! MMW can do no wrong in my book!
Last Chance to Dance - Been years. Forgot how sweet that organ solo sounds
I've only seen these guys once, Toad's Place, New Haven, CT. 3 November 2005. They rocked!
Padreceito has shades of the Ellington orchestra in its sound !!! WOW
3 friends groovin' just for the fun of it!!
Thank you x
Funky !!! In a big way !!! Need more :) x
speechless.
That church was dubbed 'Angel Orensanz' theater or something like that. Rickety old balconies were practiacally falling down...
I was at the Tonic shows, amazing little spot on the LES, and an old church around the corner a few years later. Manhattan is the place to see these guys, f'n epic.
scottfraz28
Night Marchers
Slick smooth s**t !SBJ
remarkable musicians. try to catch a live performance to deepen an appreciation of their synchronicit y . a great vibe emanates from them-
First heard these dudes from a friend at music school. Then Shackman came out and I dug it... and while Shackman was a nice intro, it is not their definitive work. A wider view - from Combusticati o n to the newer Radiolarians series - must be taken. Great group of musicians!
@Eric ....Stanton Moore trio are like them...I give all props to Stan the Man but these guys have been around longer.
Shackman is definitely their best album, althoug Friday Afternoon's pretty great too.
simialar to Stanton Moore trio
Saw them for the first time a couple months ago. Didn't know much about them beforehand but goddamn! My feet are still moving from that concert!
shackman is the best album too. that sucks it isn't on here
motherearthb u s
Shackman is mentioned but not available... . c o u l d n ' t get the rights I guess?
where;s jefrey
jefferey.chi l d e r s
Love these guys.
Art, Jazz, beautiful, beautiful art.
amazon has the cd
love the band...leave out the vocalist!
see them live!! they take on a groovy little trip
Has anybody found out where i can get this cd????
gooutandplay
Have always loved MMW, ever since I first heard "Friday Afternoon... " , but I think I need some time for Radiolarians 1 to grow on me. It's WAAAYYYYY out there.
I really love MM&W... "Where's Sly?" off their "Last Chance to Dance Trance" album is fantastic. Too bad I can't find it!
VERY NICE
I'm looking for Let's Go Everywhere Album from M,M & W's
constantsong 2 2
Not saying this to be a jerk. But in one of M,M & W's video interview things, medeski is saying, how he doesnt want them to be viewed as a jam band. because there is so much inspiration, creation, and thought behind every noise they make. just keep that in mind.
sliscomb1
Fantastic! I love jam bands but not everyone does. So I put a little of MM&W on at a party and it works for everyone. Whats better?
what can you say? if you aren't bobbing your head while listening to these guys you better check your pulse.
phenomenal improvisers. Billy Martin is the sickest on the kit. They all flow like mofos.
cowboys1174
seen these guys over 20 times, never have i been dissappointe d . . . new childrens album is awesome, my baby loves it.
BooooYaaaa
One of my all time favorites.
One of the most intellegent avantgarde jazz pianists of the 90's and 2000's is John Medeski. My hat is off to that cat.

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