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iTunes Review

While MMW bassist Chris Wood was collaborating with his brother Oliver on their folk- and blues-based project, the other two-thirds of the avant-garde jazz trio decided to return to their roots as a Hammond organ-drums duo. In the mid-1980s, keyboardist John Medeski and percussionist Billy Martin had initially planned to record as a duo — until Wood intervened —-and 20 years later, the opportunity arose, resulting in the engaging, all-original Mago. The album is bookended by a pair of off-the-cuff free jams, “Introducing Mago” and “L’Aventura,” which are notable for their intensity and ferocity, but most of the remaining cuts are deeply beholden to the almighty groove. As usual, Martin and Medeski are able to find a number of different avenues to explore that basic beat-based framework. “Crustaceatron” has a definite hip-hop flavor, for example, while “Mojet” and the buoyant “Miss Teardrop” venture into ’60s soul jazz and boogaloo territory. The deep and dawdling “Apology” adds elements of gospel while “Bonfa” is funk with a subtle Latin flair. The playful “Bamboo Pants” blends the duo’s groovy side with its experimental tendencies to great effect.

Customer Reviews

missing the point

i've heard and seen so many people complain about how this album doesn't have chris wood. have you paid attention to any of the news or even the fact that its a MEDESKI & MARTIN album? and how the group started because they both had a jam session and realized there was something musically significant between them, and they then brought in chris wood. but they vowed to someday create a duo album, and now almost 20 years later, they did. its minimalist, but its unique. the reason they don't have chris wood on the album, is because its not a Medeski Martin & Wood album, its a Medeski & Martin album. its how the band started. just drums and organ. please don't complain, just enjoy and appreciate. this is something different.

Jazz infusion

What Chris Wood gives to MMW's music with his bass is backbone. Mago has free-form jazz overtones that MMW doesn't; the first track, for example, is a prolonged, frenetic burst of clattering notes, and it sounds like traditional old-school jazz. The jazz mentality gives to this album the same quality that it gives to all jazz: a willingness to explore sounds for the sake of sound. Even if you're not into that level of abstraction, the majority of the tracks on this album run along a more concrete arc. The minimalism of two instruments leaves more air space for Medeski and Martin to fill up, and, like the incredibly talented musians they are, they don't disappoint.


What's not to say about these guys. They are geniuses.


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...
Full Bio
Mago, Billy Martin
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Apr 10, 2007

Customer Ratings