3

Billy Martin (aka Illy B) On The Nature Of Art And The Art Of Nature

Leo Sidran By

Sign in to view read count
Click the play button to listen to this episode.
Billy Martin (also known as Illy B) is many things. He's a visual artist, a filmmaker, a teacher, a builder, a composer, a record producer... But if you know his name, chances are it's from his band Medeski, Martin and Wood, a project he's had for 30 years now along with bassist Chris Wood and keyboardist John Medeski.

Billy refers to his artistic approach as playful and he is committed to the idea of play and experimentation in art. He is also totally serious about what he does, he's a serious thinker, and he takes enormous care with what he does and how he does it. He might be playing, but he's not messing around.

A lifelong student, his path has been somewhat self directed. He spent his formative musical years taking lessons at The Drummers Collective in New York, where he came in contact with a group of musicians who would shape his music and his career, and got what he calls "the inside stuff." Notably, he refers to drummer and composer Bob Moses as one of his primary mentors.

He made a documentary film about 10 years ago with another one of his early teachers, Allen Herman. That movie, Life On Drums, is a series of discussions between Billy and Allen intercut with solo drum performances by both of them.

We spoke recently about how field recordings influenced him, the power of sincerity in music and in life, the importance of staying curious and being playful, what he calls the "world music view," how "when you're experimenting there is no such thing as perfection," the similarities between music and visual art, why Instagram is such a useful tool for self expression, working with John Scofield, and much more.

Post a comment

Tags

Shop Amazon

Radio & Podcasts

JAZZ AT 100 TODAY!
Allison Miller and Friends

Tune in daily to hear the internet's top jazz programs including Mondo Jazz, Jazz Bastard, World of Jazz, The Third Story, One Man's Jazz, Jazz at 100, Neon Jazz, A Broad Spectrum, Liner Notes and more.

View by program...

Program Schedule | JazzWeek Chart

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.