Somewhere, someplace, someone is debating the future of live and recorded music, speaking in somber tones of changes that have made it difficult to reach consumers, of technologies that have changed society, and of the lack of creativity found in the arts. But in a small but impressive microcosm of the universe known as Medeski Martin & Wood, creativity is alive, flourishing, and filled with outlets for growth and expansion. And somewhere, whatever gods of music there might be are smiling.
Medeski Martin and Wood's story is - like most great stories - one of humble beginnings, friendship, determination, a happy ending and a very bright future.
The trio of keyboard/organ/piano player John Medeski, drummer/percussionist Billy Martin, and bassist Chris Wood formed not in some vastly creative alternate universe, but rather in the neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, known as D.U.M.B.O. (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) in 1991. Medeski and Wood, students at Boston's prestigious New England Conservatory of Music, decided to move to New York City, with intent to explore the late-night underworld of the city's burgeoning jazz scene.
John Medeski, Billy Martin, and Chris Wood were looking to create music that reflected who they were, individually and collectively. The trio began experimenting with contemporary hip-hop beats that could swing as hard as jazz rhythms, yet remained essentially simple and propulsive, giving the musicians ample room to create hypnotic textures and sounds that were brimming with both improvisation and harmony. In the beginning, as it is now, we went by gut instinct, says Wood. We have a natural connection between us, as people and as musicians, and we just let things flow in whatever direction they went.