Throughout the group’s career, Medeski, Martin & Wood have mixed together groove-oriented jazz with adventurous explorations, building up a large audience without compromising their musical vision. Organist/keyboardist John Medeski, bassist Chris Wood and drummer Billy Martin first met in the 1980s, playing in different combinations with John Zorn, John Lurie and Bob Moses. The band debuted in 1991 at the Village Gate in New York and made their first recording (Notes From the Underground) the following year. They sought to utilize both hip-hop rhythms and avant-garde jazz in their playing while maintaining a groove and completely avoiding predictability. During the next few years, the trio toured extensively throughout the United States, bringing their unique music to small towns and gaining followers all over the country while traveling a countless number of miles in Billy Martin’s van, which was succeeded by an R/V they acquired in 1993.
Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.