“Wide open.” That’s how John Medeski describes his bandmates’ musical sensibilities, the attitude he seeks in himself, and the spirit of musical adventure he, Billy Martin and Jeff Wood have pursued for two decades. On Saturday, October 6th at 7:30pm, Medeski Martin & Wood will perform a special acoustic performance at The College of Saint Rose, in the Kathleen McManus Picotte Recital Hall, located in the Massry Center for the Arts. Tickets are $30 each and may be purchased online.
Medeski, Martin and Wood’s amalgam of jazz, funk, “avant-noise” and other musical currents and impulses is nearly impossible to classify. Medeski’s keyboard excursions, Chris Wood’s hard-charging bass lines and Billy Martin’s supple, danceable beats have come to resemble a single organism, moving gracefully between genre-defying compositions and expansive improvisation atop a relentless groove.
Though the “jazz spirit,” as they like to call it, has been ever-present in their sonic voyages, Medeski Martin & Wood have won over a substantial audience that rarely responds to instrumental music. Their club and festival appearances are packed with alternative-rock lovers as well as jam-band aficionados and jazz heads. The band’s onstage adventurousness sparked an experimental approach to recording as well – as on 1996’s solar-powered Shack-Man, recorded in a plywood shack amid the mango trees and plumerias on Hawaii’s Big Island (and featuring Martin’s artwork on its cover); the funked-out 1998 Blue Note disc Combustication, which enlisted two radically different engineers to create complementary sonic approaches; the acoustic live set Tonic (2000), recorded in New York, and its plugged-in twin, 2001’s Electric Tonic; 2004’s End of the World Party (Just in Case), produced by John King of the Dust Brothers; their two collaborations with guitarist John Scofield, A Go Go (1998) and Out Louder (2006, under the name Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood); the 2008 children’s record Let’s Go Everywhere; and the 2008-09 Radiolarian series, a trilogy of albums generated according to a strict policy of “Write > Tour > Record > Repeat,” as the band noted in an online announcement. They’ve also founded and run their own label, Indirecto.
The band members also have kept things fresh by pursuing scores of other projects. Medeski produced two albums by the Wood Brothers, Chris Wood’s rootsy partnership with his brother, Oliver, as well as work by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and performed as a solo pianist. He and Martin also have performed and recorded as the duo Mago.
Martin, for his part, has recorded several solo discs and an album of breakbeats (under his own name and as Illy B), collaborated with DJ Logic, DJ Spooky, Dave Burrell and other artists, authored a book, pursued his own visual art, and produced and directed “Fly in a Bottle,” a feature-length documentary about the making of the Radiolarian series.
The Wood Brothers have released three LPs and an EP of cover songs and toured with the likes of Zac Brown Band, Levon Helm, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers and k.d. lang.
We’ll see you at the show on October 6th at 7:30 for this intimate performance.