The first album by Medeski Martin & Wood shows the trio
in a formative stage, with John Medeski featured only on grand piano, and Chris
Wood only on acoustic bass. With their
jazz influences showing more clearly than on later recordings, the trio,
rounded out by drummer Billy Martin, is joined by a four piece horn section on
While the Accurate edition of Notes is now out of print, the story is worth
In 1988, Medeski joined Accurate Records chief Russ
Gershon's Either/Orchestra and spent two busy years of touring and recording
with the band. This work can be heard on
The Half-Life of Desire - recorded at Rudy van Gelder Studios where Medeski
played the actual Hammond B-3 that Jimmy Smith, Larry Young and others used in
many important recordings – the Grammy-nominated Calculus of Pleasure, and
Across the Omniverse.
Around the same time, Gershon was subbing as leader of jazz
legend Jimmy Giuffre's student ensemble at the New England Conservatory, when
he spotted a talented 18 year old bassist from Boulder Colorado - Chris
Wood. Shortly afterward, Gershon was
asked by trumpeter Bob Merrill to assemble a combo for a show at Cambridge's
Middle East Restaurant. Merrill had been
booked by his grade school classmate Billy Ruane, who by this time was well on
his way to becoming a legendary scenemaker and promoter around Boston.
The band Gershon put together included Medeski and Wood, who
had never met before. The rest, as the
cliché would have it, is history. Within
the next couple of years, the two were sharing an apartment in New York's East
Village and joining forces with drummer Billy Martin to create Medeski Martin
& Wood. But they weren't through
with Gershon yet.
In 1992, as the trio was finishing up their first recording,
Gershon attempted to convince them to let him put out the album on
Accurate. While they were determined to
initiate their own label with this recording, Gershon did suggest the title
"Notes from the Underground," after Dostoyevsky.
Without distribution or prior experience, MM&W didn't
make much commercial hay with Notes, although it got great reviews and helped
them land a deal with Grammavision, a New York indy label that was soon bought
by Rykodisk. After their next album,
It's a Jungle in Here, came out in 1993, their star was on the rise. In 1995, as the followup Friday Afternoon in
the Universe was being prepared, they decided to work with Accurate to reissue
Notes, which was handled by Accurate until 2002 and sold quite well.
Collectors: we do have a limited number of copies of the
Accurate edition on hand. Please contact
us directly if you are interested.