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Radiolaria and jazz

November 24, 2008

One of my favorite musical groups is a NYC jazz trio called Medeski, Martin, & Wood (kinda sounds like a law firm, but they are way cooler than lawyers, no offense).

mmwThese guys have been around since the early ’90s and I’ve been buying their albums and going to their shows since the mid to late ’90s. MMW is an instrumental trio with John Medeski on pianos, Chris Wood on the basses, and Billy Martin on percussion. Their music is tough to pin down — it’s all jazz I suppose, but they span a broad range of rhythmic styles from groove to funk to latin or afro-cuban. And they aren’t afraid to get all weird and avant-garde from time to time, which can be interesting.

MMW is one of those bands that I enjoy seeing at a show much more than listening to them at home or on an iPod. There’s something about how they interact and communicate with each other on stage that I find really cool. It feels like your witnessing art take place right there at that moment. Read this recent brief interview with them from the LA Times to learn a bit more.

Anyway, my wife and I went and saw them last week at the famous Fillmore in San Francisco. MMW likes to do things a little different – they are constantly trying new ways of both creating music and bringing it to listeners. Their latest project is called the Radiolarian Series — here’s a blurb from their website:

In February MMW began their RADIOLARIAN SERIES, a three run, three record project. In direct contrast to they way things are usually done, MMW decided to spend 2008 composing the skeleton of new music, taking it on the road to flesh out the compositions, and finally putting the by now well played notes down as tracks. Write > Tour > Record > Repeat. Three times.

Awesome. Why is it called the Radiolarian series?

These unicellular planktonic marine organisms grow their intricately beautiful patterned skeleton around their soft core in defiance of normal biological process, similarly to Medeski Martin and Woods latest creative cycle.

Dorks! They also make mention of Ernst Haeckel’s famous artwork of radiolaria.

The 1st plate from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur (1904), depicting radiolarians, classified as Phaeodaria (credit:

What’s my point? Nothing really … just thought it was cool that one of my favorite bands is this nerdy. The show was really good … check ’em out next time they are in your town.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 25, 2008 9:49 am

    My brother turned me on to Medeski, Martin and Wood with the Combustication CD. Great stuff. and you gotta love musicians who know a good geology reference when they hear one.

  2. November 25, 2008 10:24 am

    Yeah, Combustication is good .. has DJ Logic on it. Watching John Medeski play his keyboards is like watching a mad scientist creating Frankenstein … very entertaining!

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