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300: “Nostalgia in Times Square / Angel Race” by Medeski, Martin & Wood

At a SiriusXM recording for a porn soundtrackTo celebrate #300, I’m posting a brand spanking new one from my all-time favorite law firm! Medeski, Martin & Wood fight insurance and drug companies in court with the same rigor and enthusiasm with which they tear through and assimilate musical genres.

(John Medeski – piano / Billy Martin – percussion / Chris Wood – bass)

MMW’s latest album, Free Magic (2012), is a selection of 5 lengthy live acoustic tracks from a tour in 2007. Watching them live is the ultimate way to experience their music. If you pay attention you can see them communicating with subtle glances and gestures, steering their heavily improvised musical creations with nearly telepathic coordination. Of course, they have been together since 1991, breathing each others’ emissions and syncing up their minstrel cycles.

The reactive chemistry and interplay of their music is something to behold. It’s very much like magic, an output greater than the sum of the inputs, and these guys can make it for free if you don’t count the 21 years of practice… and the fact that you pay to listen to them. Whatev. Enjoy.

Song: Nostalgia in Times Square / Angel Race
Artist: Medeski, Martin & Wood
Album: Free Magic
Label: Indirecto Records
Buy from: MusicToday | Amazon | iTunes
Listen: MOG | Spotify
Watch: YouTube

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285: “Deep In A Fried Pickle” by Billy Martin & Wil Blades

Ok, guys, give me your best I'll-kick-your-ass face.If you’re doing it right, every once in a while, you look at an amazing sunset or a beautiful person’s rear end and think to yourself, “Holy Hunks of Inter-Dimensional Is-ness, it is amazing that I am alive and that I am able to witness THIS. THIS RIGHT HERE… High five, Universe. Thanks for having me.”

And if you’re picking your music well, you might wind up listening to Shimmy (2012) by Billy Martin on skins (of Medeski, Martin & Wood) and Wil Blades on the keys. And you might just think… THIS RIGHT HERE.

The album just dropped, and it’s worth earhole insertion. Word on the street: Billy Martin wasn’t getting his quota of funky keyboard licks from bandmate John Medeski, and stepped out to two-time with Blades, who is on a less astral plane than Medeski and dispenses funky licks freely. That is how I would write the movie version, anyway.

There are a few smoking tracks on Shimmy, but I humbly submit “Deep In A Fried Pickle” as the single greatest trizzle on the bizzle.

You don’t need to understizzle. Just enjizzle.

Song: Deep In A Fried Pickle
Artist: Billy Martin & Wil Blades
Album: Shimmy
Label: The Royal Potato Family
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes

255: “Variation Cybernetique: Rhythmic Pataphysic Part 1” by DJ Spooky

DJ Spooky, Mac DaddyIf you think drum loops and hip-hop bravado when you see the abbreviation “DJ” in the beginning of a musician’s name, then you might want to rattle your head around, and try to knock loose a few preconceptions.

One of my first encounters with DJ Spooky was his 2002 album, Optometry. On it, Spooky collaborated with a handful of avant-garde jazz musicians (Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Guillermo E. Brown and Joe McPhee). When I originally listened to the album, I was expecting some jazz-infused beat pageant, like DJ Logic was doing at the time. I was way off in my expectations. So when I first listened to it, I hated it. Shelved it. I hadn’t figured out the method it would take to successfully approach the music inside Optometry.

Some music you must approach in the same way you would approach a cat. The timing has to be right, or no good can come of it.

After some rattling in my head, my eyesight changed (or maybe I just knew a little better what I was looking at…), and Optometry made it into rotation.

Good kitty.

The samples in the track I’ve selected are recordings of mostly classical instruments, and their assembled form is nothing short of magnificent. It’s a sublime and stark beauty, like a towering cloud or the color-coded map of a viral outbreak. Beauty, stark or otherwise, is everywhere, if your eyes are healthy and focused.

Enjoy DJ Spooky’s “Variation Cybernetique: Rhythmic Pataphysic Part 1” the title of which explains the song much better than I ever could.

Song: Variation Cybernetique: Rhythmic Pataphysic Part 1
Artist: DJ Spooky
Album: Optometry
Label: Thirsty Ear
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes
Listen: MOG | Spotify

162: “Muffaletta” and “El Ritmo” by Wicked Knee

Cowbell?Wicked Knee is a rolling slurry of a band concocted of:
Billy Martin (percussion)
Steven Bernstein (trumpet)
Curtis Fowlkes (trombone)
Marcus Rojas (tuba)

New Orleans is barely more New Orleans than the tunes these guys are playing.  There’s an impending EP, but in the meantime, you can listen to some tracks on MySpace, and check out the videos below on YouTube.

The first video is from Billy Martin’s “Anti-Instructional” DVD, now available, called Life on Drums which features Wicked Knee.  Billy Martin wants to teach everyone they can be an artist, regardless of their talent level.  Which is cool except if he’s encouraging truly bad, unimaginative people to start hitting things loudly.  I’m all for everybody being an artist except for if it sucks directly on or near me.  But to be honest, even then, I’m pretty patient.  Just don’t test me…

Wicked Knee’s artistry doesn’t suck at all.  In fact, it VERY doesn’t suck.  Enjoy.

Songs: Muffaletta, El Ritmo
Artist: Wicked Knee
Album: (Coming Soon)
DVD: Life on Drums (Billy Martin)
Buy from: Amazon | Amulet Records

115: “Hey Joe” by Medeski, Martin & Wood

It's so obvious that John Medeski just farted in this picture.I shan’t post songs by the same artist very many times.  These guys deserve a double-post (see original post).

The notion of hearing a jazz piano trio cover Jimi Hendrix has a great deal of potential to initiate your gag reflex.  Medeski, Martin & Wood calls bullcrap on that.  French intended.

First video: a recording from an intimate live performance of “Hey Joe” at Tonic in NYC.  For some reason it has 3 1/2 minutes of dead time at the end.

Second video: a lo-def video recording of “Hey Joe” at a jazz festival from 2001 (thanks, astute readers!!).  Marc Ribot sits in for a smoking solo on this soul-searing rendition of one of Hendrix’s finest.  Mais, oui.

Always improvise.  And enjoy.

Song: Hey Joe
Artist: Medeski, Martin & Wood
Album: Tonic
Label: Blue Note
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes