Friday, May 29, 2009
I would be remiss in my blog not to talk about Medeski, Martin, and Wood, known as MMW. Writing about them really doesn't do justice to what they are about and what they are doing with sound. I'll give you basics for those of you who aren't familiar with them or their music - John Medeski, keys; Billy Martin, drums and percussion; Chris Wood, bass. They've been together since 1991, starting as a jazz trio. Their influences are universal, everything from children's toys to Charles Ives to Messaien to African drumming to hip hop to the Meters to Ray Charles to Charles Mingus to Bob Marley, just keep going, it doesn't stop. They were with Blue Note for many years but now have their own recording studio and are able to make music the way they want. They've embarked on the three volume Radiolarian series - rather than making a recording and playing the music from the new album for audiences, they are creating music for audiences and then bringing back their work to the recording studio.
I went to New England Conservatory with John. I went to some of his gigs back then, we even went to see a couple of movies. He was always in another place as a pianist, playing with sound and creating, he was a monumental talent and an intense person, a bit intimidating, but he was quick to find humor and laugh about things. I caught up with him again last summer at the first Camp MMW held in the Catskills, about 70 musicians participated. I can't begin to tell you what a profound experience camp was for me. John, Billy, and Chris are each great talents that work well together, and to hear them play live and close-up was a gift. They each gave lectures, we tried out a lot of ideas, saw fascinating movies, heard amazing concerts every night, all at a beautiful resort in the Catskills with amazing food. Because of camp, I am now devoting my life to music and yoga. That is the definition of a life-changing experience.
They've just released Radiolarians II and Billy who has many talents besides being a drummer/percussionist/teacher, filmed this movie with an old Russian K3 super 16 mm film camera, the song is Amber Gris from the album. http://vimeo.com/4313669
I'll be seeing them in a week, MMW will be performing in Baltimore June 5th. The universe is listening.