1/  Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho                              (MMW)                         3.54
        Illy B remix 
  2/  Whatever Happened To Gus                   (MMW,Cannon,Guru)             4.39
      (Word To The Drums mix)  
        Remixed by Guru
  3/  Start-Stop                                 (MMW)                         6.32
        Remixed by DJ Logic
  4/  Nocturne                                   (MMW)                         5.41
        Remixed by Dan The Automator 
  5/  Sugarcraft                                 (MMW)                         4.10
        Remixed by Yuka Honda
  6/  Satan's Church Of Hypnotized Logic         (MMW,DJ Logic)                10.04
        Reconstruction and mix translation by Bill Laswell
ORIGINAL TRACKS - John Medeski: organ, piano; Billy Martin: drums; Chris Wood: bass; REMIXES - (1) Billy Martin: additional keyboard and percussion; Scott Harding: engineer; (3) Scott Harding: engineer; (4) Yuka Honda: drum programming, synthesizer, samples; Sean Lennon: clavinet, synthesizer; Miho Hatori: vocals; Pat Dillet: engineer; (5) Robert Musso: engineer.

          1999 - Blue Note (USA), 7087 6 10193-1 (12")
          1999 - Blue Note (USA), 72437 99503-2 (CD)
Note: The 12" version only contains tracks 1,3 and 6.


You could almost make the argument that MMW's free-flowing jamologies are the polar opposite to most any remixer's duty. Lift a few vocal tracks, boost the BPMs, garnish with a few timely orchestral hits and a rap in the middle eight, name the remix after yourself and you're home. Fine formula, except that the original Combustication CD was already a quick paste of sonic swatches and loose grooves mixed by the band themselves, with assistance from David Baker, Scott Harding, and DJ Logic. The half dozen tracks for this remix project, then, tend to be a bit more imaginative by featuring more exposition and sonic timbres than the trio's funkified soul-jazz moves. For example, MMW drummer Billy Martin's redux (as IllyB) of "Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho" obviously features more percussive tricks, with John Medeski's Hammond set to full attack, attaching his drum kit to some severe sound envelopes, and bolstering the rhythmic foundation with off-kiltered hand claps and keyboard-triggered shouts. Likewise, DJ Logic adds a mountain of atmospheric effects, turntable buzz and subtle dissolves and delays into the chunky "Start-Stop", something of a retro-remix since his deft handiwork was featured on the original track. And with such creative license, not everything is beholden to MMW’s feelgood improvisational ethic. Automator's dirge-like restructuring of "Nocturne" is the most radical cover here, by richly incorporating an obscure Steel Pulse track, while twisting and blurring MMW's original contribution beyond recognition. Surprisingly, the most unique retooling comes via Cibo Matto's Yuka Honda, who injects "Sugar Craft" (again, a song about food!) with a glazing of power pop, with help from partner Miho Hatori's energetic-yet phonetic vocals, along with additional clavinet and synth figures from Sean Ono Lennon. But it's the master translator, the grand Buddha of beat, Bill Laswell, that proves no groove is too golden. With a remarkable sixth sense for enhancing the trio's trance-inducing beats and unconfined noodling, Laswell demands the bass dig a little deeper with a thick boom while phasing and panning all manner of stray soloing during the moody "Satan's Church Of Hypnotized Logic." Deadly. Devoted fans might find some of the work here strays a bit (even the band has revisited its roots by performing a few recent dates as an acoustic piano trio), but MMWtend to pick up on the strengths of their collaborations (as in JohnScofield's "A Go Go")rather than to discourage them. A warm recommendation to the adventurous.

Richard Proplesch (courtesy of the Focus Magazine website)


Avant-jazzers Medeski Martin & Wood make fairly weird music to start with, so pushing their stuff through the acid-jazz-meets-trip-hop filter is bound to yield some very interesting results, right?

Well, of course.

On the Combustication Remix EP, six mad sound scientists (including Illy B, aka Billy Martin, drummer for MMW) redistribute and supplement elements of the musical source material like Pablo Picasso rearranged the human form on canvas.

Although there are still those who consider the art of remixing to be illegitimate, many have come to embrace the skill as a means by which to breathe new life into old tracks. The well-conceived remix promotes a sense that the original creative impulse might possibly achieve immortality (as opposed to mummification) by generating an endless series of mutations. Add to that bit of loftiness the fact that good remixes can be as much fun to listen to as they are to make, and it's no wonder that the remixing phenomenon is more rampant than the tribute album itself.

Along with Illy B, the Combustication Remix features studio trickery from DJ Logic (who collaborated with MMW on last year's Combustication), Yuka Honda, Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, Bill Laswell, and Guru (whose "Whatever Happened To Gus" takes the only clunker on Combustication and gives the original's surreal paean to yesteryear jazz culture a needed shot of cred).

You really don't have to dig Medeski Martin & Wood or even jazz to like this EP. If you prefer your hip-hop dosed with a healthy portion of strangeness, try these tracks.

Stephen Grimstead (courtesy of the Memphis Flyer website)


What makes this such a fun program is the fact that Medeski, Martin & Wood's sound is normally so organic — comprised of John Medeski on Hammond organ, upright bassist Chris Wood and drummer Billy Martin, the trio has always cultivated a warm, funky sound that is far removed from the digital bleeps and synthetic grooves of electronic dance music. So bringing in four DJs, a rapper and Bill Laswell to work some remix voodoo on tracks from the latest MM&W album was a move both counterintuitive and inspired. Illy B goes the techno route on his remix of "Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho"; Guru intones some somber ghetto consciousness over a hip-hopped-up arrangement of "Whatever Happened to Gus"; DJ Logic weaves an eerie, illbient groove out of "Start-Stop"; and Dan the Automator gets similarly downtempo on his remix of "Nocturne," which actually incorporates a Steel Pulse sample. But best of all is Bill Laswell's ten-minute take on "Satan's Church of Hypnotized Logic," which retains much of the flavor of the original while muscling it up with heavier bass and Middle Eastern vocal samples.

Rick Anderson (courtesy of the All Music Guide website)