Jazz Funk Trio Medeski Martin & Wood at MASS MoCA November 12
Legendary Group to Play Hunter Center SRO Style
By: Caleb Hiliadis - Nov 09, 2009
Not even the forces of nature can prevent Medeski, Martin & Wood from playing their music. In December 2003, the group sold out the Hunter Center in the middle of a blizzard. Luckily this year the band will be returning to MoCA before the snow has begun to fall. On Thursday, November 12, at 8 P.M. sharp, the band returns to MASS MoCA with their third and final album of the 3-album, 3-tour project Viva La Evolution finished.
The MASS MoCA concertgoers who decide to make the date will be among the first to experience the new album live. As with any jam band, you really have to see it live. MMW is not afraid to experiment with musical sound, rhythm, and melody. Each member drawis on their range of musical understanding and training.
Popmatters.com says that Medeski, Martin and Wood "are a satisfying jam-band, locking into an organic funk as messily and genuinely as any Parliament/Funkadelic incarnation.
"But better than that Â— and immensely better than that when you are talking about listening to one of their recordings Â— they write tunes worth hearing and play with the improvisatory invention of good jazz players."
The band is made up of keyboardist, John Medeski, drummer, Billy Martin, and bassist, Chris Wood. They formed in 1991 in Brooklyn, NY and from the start followed a musical path that set them apart from other improvising ensembles of the time. They performed with an unpretentious demeanor and eclectic influences. Their debut album Notes From The Underground was released independently in 1992. Soon after, inm 1992, they worked on record deals with Gramavision and Blue Note Records.
MMW has been together for 18 years, produced 15 albums. They are free from the standard, corporate,recording process, making albums the way they should be made. The project, originally called Viva La Evolution, which now goes by Radiolarians, was created while they toured and performed. They started with a rough concept of how the songs were to sound and developed them as they played. The group relied on their improvisational mindsets and superb musicianship toget through performances each night. This approach entailedconstructing an album when the tour was over. This is how the three albums of the Radiolarians project we completed. during three tours, over the course of a single year.
In an interview Chris Wood commented, "We have always complained that when you are on a traditional label and have a traditional record deal, you never can release and record and create as much as you always wanted." With their self-owned record label, Indirecto, the band is able to expand their creative urges, experiment with the flow of sound, and play music the way they feel it should be played.
MMW has flipped the traditional way of creating a record and the projects title parallels this inversion. Radiolarians are microscopic organisms that grow gorgeously colored skeletons on the outside of their soft inner core. It was Martin who stumbled upon these unique creatures when he looked through a 19th-century book, Art Forms of the Ocean, by scientist and illustrator Ernst Haeckel. The book's exquisite illustrations were chosen as the series' cover art, as well as influencing MMW's unique and inverted creative process.
Enjoy a quick chat with Billy Martin here. MASS MoCA's Hunter Center as one of the venues lucky enough to experience their freshly released album.
Tickets for Medeski Martin, & Wood are $25 in advance, $29 day of show, and MASS MoCA members get a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams, open from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M., closed Tuesdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org.