Drop the Needle

Talented drummer Billy Martin (a.k.a. Illy B), of renowned jazz/groove trio Medeski, Martin & Wood, started his own label, Amulet Records, back in 1995 as a means to explore his fascination with polyrhythmic avant-garde percussion. Spurred by his MMW tour partner DJ Logic, Martin decided last year to release some of his own funky beats on a vinyl-only collection titled Groove, Bang and Jive Around with the stipulation that anyone in the listening public could use the beats to create new tracks, then send the mixes back for possible inclusion on a follow-up compilation.

The result, contained here in this two-CD set, is a highly diverse, wholly distinguishable collection of more fully fleshed mixes, rap songs, and electronic/rock-flavored tracks—some more successful than others—but all anchored by the inescapable groove of Martin’s fluid, time-tight drumming.

Martin helped produce several of the interesting tracks here, most of them featuring known musicians such as Miho Hatori (Cibo Matto), Jennifer Charles (Dan the Automator), Calvin Weston (Ornette Coleman, Lounge Lizards), Cyro Baptista (John Zorn) as well as MMW partners John Medeski and Chris Wood. But lesser known contributors such as Sex with Robots, Spacefuzz and rappers Stainless Steel and Bombay Sapphire add some interesting input themselves, decorating the beats with a colorful palate of sounds, from violin and lap steel to Theramin, children’s toys, turntables, clavinet, mellotron, you name it (the track “Primates” features a beautiful upright bass sample from the MMW song “Sand").

The entire swirling collection tends to take on the swarm of New York City, where it was created, with an exciting kind of eclectic propulsion beneath it—but one you never would have imagined having heard only the original beats.

Disc Two features the original Illy beats once again in hopes of spurring more communally creative filtering of one source though many minds.