Feeling free from the confines of traditional label standards of write, release, tour, jazz-fusion trio Medeski Martin and Wood have slated three unique albums for 2008, with the material being written and developed during three separate tours.
Aside from a few songs making it into their festival rotation, the band plans to retire the material after each studio session has been logged.
“We wanted to do that, because the normal record cycle is hard for a band like us, when you’re with a big label,” bassist Chris Wood tells Billboard.com. “It becomes hard to write and develop as musicians, if you can’t put that much out.”
Equally difficult for Wood is characterizing how the material is shaping up on the road so far. “One of the things we’re taking advantage of more and more is that [drummer] Billy [Martin] has come out with his rhythm book,” Wood says.
“It’s based on rhythmic clauses that have started out in Africa, but have moved to other parts of the world [and] that you can find in different sorts of music, from New Orleans music to hip-hop,” he continues. “It’s been a way for us to approach writing in a different way, with these different rhythmic combinations. But everything gets filtered through our MMW lens, and comes out sounding like us.”
MMW plans to release all three records on their own label, Indirecto. “It’s been a lot of work setting it up and getting distribution,” Wood admits. “It’s not easy in that sense, but it sure is nice to have the freedom to release what we want, when we want. Record companies have never known what to do with MMW — they don’t fit into any marketing strategies.”
In other news, budding musicians will get to learn hands-on from the trio this summer at an MMW “summer camp” in the Catskills between Aug. 5-10. Space is limited to 80 campers, and potential participants must apply for acceptance.