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Billy Martin: Solo Live Tonic 2002

The drummer for Medeski, Martin and Wood brings his painterly instincts and polyrhythmic sensibilities to bear on Solo Live Tonic 2002. In the tradition of solo drum masters like Max Roach, Milford Graves and Andrew Cyrille before him, Martin juggles time signatures and colors grooves with a myriad of textures in this free-flowing affair that showcases his adeptness on the kit. Some highlights include his Roach tribute, “Max Moon,” his dramatic use of space and dynamics on the tribalistic “Six Grandfathers,” the gamelan-sounding metallic percussion piece “Coconuts Feeding Birds” and his melodic mbira (thumb piano) jam on “Flora Aura.” Martin also shows his masterful way with the clave on the solo cowbell piece “The Daybreak Star Herb of Understanding,” then conjures up some African magic on “Burundi Drums” and “Talking Drum.” He closes the daring solo drum showcase with a series of three “Finales” that blend masterful control and sheer explosive abandon on the kit.

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