Medeski, Martin & Wood: An 'Uninvisible' Trio

According to Chris Wood, bassist for Medeski, Martin & Wood, the title of the trio's 10th album, "Uninvisible" (due April 9 via Blue Note) is "a bit like a Rorschach test -- it means different thi

According to Chris Wood, bassist for Medeski, Martin & Wood, the title of the trio's 10th album, "Uninvisible" (due April 9 via Blue Note) is "a bit like a Rorschach test -- it means different things to different people.

"In the same way, our music is on the fringe of a lot of categories," Wood continues. "People judge it in their own way, depending on where they are coming from."

Without a doubt, a diverse group of music fans has found appeal in the music of Medeski, Martin & Wood. The band's music is beloved by fans of avant-garde jazz, hip-hop, jam bands, dance music, funk, and lounge sounds. Each album includes collaborations with edgy musicians from different music worlds, attracting new fans and creating unique concepts in sound each time around.

The band got its start in 1991 in New York, playing gigs at the Village Gate and the Knitting Factory. After booking its own tours and slogging cross-country to promote its independently released set "Notes From the Underground," the band struck a record deal with Gramavision. It recorded four albums for the label, including the upbeat and accessible "Shackman." When the band's deal ended, it signed with Blue Note.

For "Uninvisible," the act's fourth for Blue Note, producer Scotty Hard was brought in for the third time. Hard, known for his work with Wu-Tang Clan and Prince Paul, played an important role in putting the pieces of the album together -- since all three band members are constantly engaged in side projects and had limited availability. Keyboardist John Medeski recently recorded with the Word, Gov't Mule, Sex Mob, and Peruvian songstress Susana Baca. Drummer Billy Martin started an experimental percussion label, Amulet Records. And Wood toured and recorded with Stanton Moore, Bob Moses, and Karl Denson.

Because of conflicting schedules, the album was recorded in short spurts. "We went into the studio not knowing a single thing about what we were going to play," Wood explains. "We improvise, roll tape, and then find the stuff we like. Then we begin to mold it and think about what each piece needs." For this album, the band worked with the experimental producer DJ Olive, the horn section from Brooklyn-based Afrobeat band Antibalas, turntablist DJ P Love, and the eccentric Southern poet Colonel Bruce Hampton.

Although a specific single has not been selected, famed Star Wars director George Lucas' company, LucasFilms, is creating a video for the title track.

Medeksi, Martin & Wood will hit the road April 7 on a month-long tour that kicks off at the 3 Rivers Music Festival in Columbia, S.C. The group also has two shows planned June 7 at the High Falls Festival in Rochester, N.Y., as well as a July 6 appearance at the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, Calif. For more information, visit the band's official Web site.

Excerpted from the March 23, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full text of the article is available in the members section.

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