Biography All Music GuideWikipedia
Group Members: Medeski, Martin & Wood, John Medeski & Lee Shaw, Billy Martin, Billy Martin And G. Calvin Weston, Billy Martin/Grant Calvin Weston/DJ Logic, Various Artists - Amulet, Billy Martin & Socket, Billy Martin & Grant Calvin Weston, Billy Martin, John Medeski, Billy Martin, Grant Calvin Weston, DJ Logic
All Music Guide:
A group that effortlessly straddles the gap between avant-garde improvisation and accessible groove-based jazz, Medeski, Martin & Wood have simultaneously earned standings as relentlessly innovative musicians and as an enormously popular act. Emerging out of the New York downtown scene in the early '90s, MMW soon set out on endless cross-country tours before returning home to Manhattan to further refine their sound through myriad influential experimentations. Each of the musicians -- keyboardist John Medeski, drummer/percussionist Billy Martin, and bassist Chris Wood -- had crossed paths throughout the '80s, playing with the likes of John Lurie, John Zorn, and Martin mentor Bob Moses. In 1991, the trio officially convened for an engagement at New York's Village Gate. Soon, the group was rehearsing in Martin's loft, writing, and then recording 1992's self-released Notes from the Underground. As the group began to tour, escaping the supportive though insular New York music community, Medeski -- a former child prodigy -- switched to a Hammond B-3 organ rather than a grand piano.
Gramavision released It's a Jungle in Here in 1993, which featured horn arrangements by future Sex Mob founder (and pan-scenester) Steven Bernstein. The medley of Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing" and Bob Marley's "Lively Up Yourself" spoke volumes about what the band was attempting to accomplish. Friday Afternoon in the Universe, widely considered the band's breakthrough record, further continued the push toward groove-oriented accessibility, a move that peaked with the group's 1996 Rykodisc debut, Shack-Man (recorded entirely in the band's practice shack in the Maui jungle). By 1996, through a combination of endless touring and two widely circulated live collaborations with Phish, the group caught on in the burgeoning jam band scene, where they have continued to draw the bulk of their audience outside of New York.
Late in 1996, the group began a public return to its avant-garde roots, hosting a series of weekly "shack parties" at New York's Knitting Factory that featured collaborations with many musicians, including Vernon Reid and DJ Logic; the latter would soon become the group's unofficial fourth member. MMW issued the extremely free (and utterly beautiful) Farmer's Reserve on their own Indirecto imprint in 1997, a series of improvisations recorded at the Shack. Logic soon joined the band on the road, and MMW prepared to record Combustication, their first effort for Blue Note, as well as their first full-length collaboration with producer Scott Harding. In 2000, MMW truly came out as leaders with a pair of releases -- the live acoustic Tonic (recorded at the New York City club of the same name) and the electric The Dropper (recorded at the band's newly christened Shacklyn Studios in the trendy DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn) -- as well as an acclaimed Halloween performance at Manhattan's Beacon Theater. The Dropper featured Harding's gritty production, as well as appearances by Sun Ra alum Marshall Allen. In 2006, the group released Out Louder, an album that saw the trio collaborate with John Scofield. Their music was also featured on Grey's Anatomy.
Radiolarians I, the first of three loosely linked albums, appeared in the fall of 2008 on the group's own Indirecto Records imprint. Radiolarians II and III followed a year later, as did the trio's box set entitled Radiolarians: The Evolutionary Set, containing the trilogy, a disc of remixes by celebrated DJs, a live CD, a double LP chosen from the three original albums, and a DVD documentary shot by Martin entitled Fly in a Bottle. At this stage of the band's nearly two-decade career, MMW's reputation has indeed achieved massive proportions.
As they always have, the three core bandmembers contribute to numerous other recording projects, both as sidemen and leaders. They are also recognized for carving paths that other musicians have followed -- for example, their rise in popularity contributed to a renaissance in B-3-based organ trios, and although many groups had played with DJs before them, MMW's performances with DJ Logic made it downright fashionable. And while still considered an "alternative" jazz group, Medeski, Martin & Wood continue to draw larger audiences than many of their mainstream counterparts. In 2011, MSMW Live: In Case the World Changes Its Mind was released by Indirecto Records. The double-length set was culled from the Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood 2006 world tour; its contents reflect material off Scofield's A Go Go and MSMWs studio offering Out Louder. They also released 20, a collection of new songs and previously unrecorded older material. In 2012, MMW issued Free Magic, a live document of tunes taken from their 2007 acoustic tour.
Medeski Martin & Wood (or MMW) is an American avant-jazz-funk organ trio formed in 1991, consisting of John Medeski on keyboards and piano, Billy Martin on drums and percussion, and Chris Wood on double bass and bass guitar.
The band draws on influences from a number of musical traditions, from funk to hip hop, and is known for an unconventional style sometimes described as "avant-groove".
MMW has found moderate mainstream success, often working with noted guitarist John Scofield and touring on the jam band circuit.
The band members were introduced to each other by jazz drummer Bob Moses, who had performed with Medeski and Wood, and was Martin's instructor.
Medeski Martin & Wood's first performances together were at the Village Gate, a popular New York jazz club. They were initially an acoustic jazz trio, but Medeski added a Hammond organ when the difficulties of touring with a piano became apparent. Their first album, Notes from the Underground, is a record of their entirely-acoustic era. All of their subsequent albums reveal Medeski's use of a wide variety of keyboards, including mellotron, melodica, and a clavinet. Wood entirely eschewed the electric bass for MMW's first three albums, and still relies heavily on the acoustic upright bass in recordings and during live performances. Their earlier albums reveal a Hip Hop influenced updating of classic soul jazz sounds, which is the primary theme of their well-known 1996 album, Shack-man.
The band received some of their first significant exposure outside of the New York City jazz scene by performing with Phish at their October 14, 1995 concert, which led to the association of the group as a jam band. In addition, their performance on John Scofield's 1997 album A Go Go helped to further their exposure. The band collaborated further with Scofield again in 2006, releasing the album Out Louder under the name Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood. This was the first album released on MMW's own Indirecto Records.
From 1998 to 2005, MMW were signed to leading jazz label Blue Note Records, and showed them delving deeper into dense, electronic funk than their earlier albums, although the band continued to experiment with free jazz and free improvisation both on their albums and in concert. In 2001 MMW performed several songs for the Red Hot Organization's compilation album Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington, which raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease.
Medeski Martin & Wood's live performances are renowned for their exploratory nature. Their concerts usually involve extended improvisations, which may be both arrhythmic and atonal, an aspect of their musicianship that is rarely documented in the studio. They occasionally tour using only acoustic instruments, reverting back to the instrumentation that they began their career with. Their album Tonic is an example of these more contemporary acoustic performances. They have also done short tours of entirely improvisatory performances. These shows usually consisted of two sets of improvisation, followed by an encore of a song from an album.
Side projects 
Each of the trio's three members is involved in a large music community, and has participated in numerous side projects over the years.
In 2001 John Medeski collaborated with the North Mississippi Allstars and steel guitarist Robert Randolph; together, these five musicians formed The Word, a bluesy gospel band. They released one self-titled album and toured extensively.
Beginning around 2005 Chris Wood formed The Wood Brothers with his brother, blues guitarist Oliver Wood. They have released several albums to date and continue to tour and record together.
In 2007 John Medeski and Billy Martin released an album as a duo, called Mago. They performed that material together at the 2007 Bonnaroo Music Festival.