Medeski, Martin & Wood

Medeski Martin & Wood

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Medeski Martin & Wood

Medeski Martin & Wood (or MMW) is an American avant-jazz-funk organ trio formed in 1991, consisting of John Medeski on keyboards and piano, Billy Martin on drums and percussion, and Chris Wood on double bass and bass guitar.

The band draws on influences from a number of musical traditions, from funk to hip hop, and is known for an unconventional style sometimes described as "avant-groove".

MMW has found moderate mainstream success, often working with noted guitarist John Scofield and touring on the jam band circuit.


The band members were introduced to each other by jazz drummer Bob Moses, who had performed with Medeski and Wood, and was Martin's instructor.

Medeski Martin & Wood's first performances together were at the Village Gate, a popular New York jazz club. They were initially an acoustic jazz trio, but Medeski added a Hammond organ when the difficulties of touring with a piano became apparent. Their first album, Notes from the Underground, is a record of their entirely-acoustic era. All of their subsequent albums reveal Medeski's use of a wide variety of keyboards, including mellotron, melodica, and a clavinet. Wood entirely eschewed the electric bass for MMW's first three albums, and still relies heavily on the acoustic upright bass in recordings and during live performances. Their earlier albums reveal a Hip Hop influenced updating of classic soul jazz sounds, which is the primary theme of their well-known 1996 album, Shack-man.

The band received some of their first significant exposure outside of the New York City jazz scene by performing with Phish at their October 14, 1995 concert, which led to the association of the group as a jam band.[1] In addition, their performance on John Scofield's 1997 album A Go Go helped to further their exposure. The band collaborated further with Scofield again in 2006, releasing the album Out Louder under the name Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood. This was the first album released on MMW's own Indirecto Records.

From 1998 to 2005, MMW were signed to leading jazz label Blue Note Records, and showed them delving deeper into dense, electronic funk than their earlier albums, although the band continued to experiment with free jazz and free improvisation both on their albums and in concert. In 2001 MMW performed several songs for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington, which raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease.

Medeski Martin & Wood's live performances are renowned for their exploratory nature. Their concerts usually involve extended improvisations, which may be both arrhythmic and atonal, an aspect of their musicianship that is rarely documented in the studio. They occasionally tour using only acoustic instruments, reverting to the instrumentation that they began their career with. Their album Tonic is an example of these more contemporary acoustic performances. They have also done short tours of entirely improvisatory performances. These shows usually consisted of two sets of improvisation, followed by an encore of a song from an album.

Side projects

Each of the trio's three members is involved in a large music community, and has participated in numerous side projects over the years.

In 2001 John Medeski collaborated with the North Mississippi Allstars and steel guitarist Robert Randolph; together, these five musicians formed The Word, a bluesy gospel instrumental jam band. They released one self-titled album and toured extensively.

Beginning around 2005 Chris Wood formed The Wood Brothers with his brother, blues guitarist Oliver Wood. They have released several albums to date and continue to tour and record together.

In 2007 John Medeski and Billy Martin released an album as a duo, called Mago. They performed that material together at the 2007 Bonnaroo Music Festival.[2]



  • Notes from the Underground (January 1, 1992)
  • It's a Jungle in Here (October 18, 1993)
  • Friday Afternoon in the Universe (January 24, 1995)
  • Shack-man (October 15, 1996)
  • Farmer's Reserve (February 11, 1997) ambient improvisation album
  • Combustication (August 11, 1998)
  • Tonic (April 25, 2000) acoustic live album recorded at Tonic in NYC
  • The Dropper (October 24, 2000)
  • Electric Tonic (October 31, 2001) electric live album, limited release
  • Uninvisible (April 9, 2002)
  • End of the World Party (Just in Case) (September 7, 2004)
  • Let's Go Everywhere (January 8, 2008) children's album
  • Zaebos: Book of Angels Volume 11 (August 19, 2008) - John Zorn project album
  • The Radiolarian Series (three-album project, 2008-2009)
    • Radiolarians 1 (September 30, 2008)
    • Radiolarians 2 (April 14, 2009)
    • Radiolarians 3 (August 4, 2009)
    • Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set (December 8, 2009)
  • The Stone: Issue Four (November 2010) - cd to benefit The Stone; live in Japan
  • 20 (March - December 2011) - Collection of tracks (released monthly) celebrating MMW's 20 year anniversary.
  • Free Magic (September 25, 2012) [3] - acoustic live album, recorded 2007

Albums with John Scofield

  • A Go Go (John Scofield album with MMW) (April 7, 1998)
  • Out Louder (as Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood) (September 26, 2006)
  • In Case the World Changes Its Mind (Live album as Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood) (November 8, 2011)

Albums with Chris Whitley

  • Perfect Day (Featuring Billy Martin and Chris Wood) (July 25, 2000)


  • Last Chance to Dance Trance (Perhaps) (Gramavision 1991-1996) (October 12, 1999)
  • Note Bleu: Best of the Blue Note Years 1998-2005 (April 4, 2006)

Remix Project EP's

  • Bubblehouse (April 8, 1997)
  • Combustication Remix EP (April 20, 1999)

See also


  1. Medeski, Martin and Wood : Rolling Stone
  2. [1]
  3. Medeski Martin & Wood Announce New Album 'Free Magic'. URL accessed on 6 August 2012.

External links

  • Medeski Martin & Wood official website
  • MMW Setlists archive of live show setlists & information
  • MMW Performance History frequently updated archive of live shows, including solo gigs, guest appearances and member side projects
  • Interview with John Poirier for Aural States (Sept 2009)
  • "Medeski, Martin & Wood: Twelve Essential Tracks" by Matt Leskovic
  • Medeski Martin & Wood at All Music Guide
  • MONEYPIT May 2005 Working on John Medeski's Mellotron
  • Interview with Billy Martin Conducted with Citizen Dick, focusing on Radiolarians project and music in general
  • Conversation with Chris Wood In-depth conversation with bassist Chris Wood
Medeski Martin & Wood
John Medeski | Billy Martin | Chris Wood
Notes from the Underground (1992) | It's a Jungle in Here (1993) | Friday Afternoon in the Universe (1995) | Shack-man (1996) | Farmer's Reserve (1997) | Bubblehouse (1997) | Combustication (1998) | Combustication Remix EP (1999) | Last Chance to Dance Trance (Perhaps) (1999) | Tonic (2000) | The Dropper (2000) | Electric Tonic (2001) | Uninvisible (2002) | End of the World Party (Just in Case) (2004) | Note Bleu: Best of the Blue Note Years 1998-2005 (2006) | Out Louder (2006)
Related articles
John Scofield | The Wood Brothers
This page was last modified 24.01.2014 01:01:33

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