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Edited by Jonathan Cohen / March 6, 2001, 4:45 p.m. ET

Medeski Martin & Wood Drummer Goes Breakbeat

Medeski Martin & Wood Drummer Billy Martin of eclectic jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood is primed to further blur genre lines with the April 3 release of "Groove Bang And Jive Around," a vinyl-only collection of homemade breakbeats intended for DJ use. The album, released under the name illy B Eats on Martin's own Amulet label, will be the basis for a future double-CD compiling new tracks created around the beats by outside musicians.

"Groove Bang And Around" was produced by longtime MMW collaborator Scotty Hard, also known for his work with the Jungle Brothers and Wu-Tang Clan. But it was at the suggestion of MMW sideman DJ Logic that Martin finally took seriously the idea of releasing an album of just beats.

"He used to hear me in soundcheck playing beats, and would tell me to record them and put them out on vinyl," Martin tells Billboard.com. "I didn't even know what a breakbeat record was, but I have always wanted to do a groove-oriented recording."

Less a collection of naturally recorded drumbeats, "Groove Bang And Jive Around" is full of "old-fashioned drum machines sounds, with tango and bossanova" accents, according to Martin. Hard added his own modern twists behind the boards, with an emphasis on "tonal harmonies and distortion."

With a number of other Amulet projects on the horizon and MMW's spring tour set to kick off April 6 in Denver, Martin reports that "it's totally up in the air" what direction the band's next album will take. "It could be live or it could be in the studio," he says. "I have to say I feel like the band is really seasoned right now. We've really got a good thing going. Every performance feels really good and fresh."

MMW's most recent album, "The Dropper" (Blue Note), debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz albums chart last November. For more information on the "Groove Band And Jive Around" collaborative album, visit Amulet's official Web site.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.


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