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Billy Martin: Solo Live At Tonic

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Album Review

Released as a companion piece to Live at Houston Hall, a duet album with fellow drummer Grant Calvin Weston recorded in 2002, Solo Live Tonic comes from the same general era, but it's a fairly different proposition. Recorded on a small solo tour promoting his all-percussion solo album Black Elk Speaks, most of Solo Live Tonic (recorded at the New York City club of that name) is based on the principles of that album, transformed into expansive free jazz-style improvisational workouts rather than strict interpretations of the album's tracks. Fans of the sometimes clinical and academic-sounding album will be particularly interested in tracks like "Flora Aura," a fluid improvisation on the mbira, the African thumb piano that's one of the album's main instruments, or the similarly African-influenced improv "Burundi Drums" and "Talking Drum." There's a much looser feeling to this occasionally shambolic live set than the studio album afforded, making it more of an intriguing reworking of similar principles than a simple regurgitation.


Born: October 30, 1963 in New York City, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

With a steady base as one-third of the renowned experimental jazz trio Medeski, Martin, & Wood, drummer Billy Martin has become one of the most forward-thinking, innovative, and influential percussionists in the music world. His ultra-sensitive, hyper-melodic drumming -- which explores the ideas of jazz, hip-hop, electronica, African music, and other genres -- has an organic feel to it, filled with soft, natural edges and fluid energies. Born in New York City in 1963, Martin was raised in a wholly...
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Billy Martin: Solo Live At Tonic, Billy Martin
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Jan 03, 2006

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