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Boomkat Product Review:
Billy Martin is better known to breaks-heads as Illy B or simply as Billy Martin, the funky drummer and percussionist with Medeski, Martin & Wood. On Tzadik we don't get anything that Blue Note would touch or the Bully heads would find inspiration to remix. Instead sourced from an earlier CD on his Amulet label ('Black Elk Speaks') comes a suite of african mbira tracks that here get orchestrated for a ten piece chamber orchestra by Anthony Coleman. Finding inspiration in Mingus's horn writing and in modern classical modes this suite feels slightly out of sync with the worlds of both jazz and classical, it mostly reminds me of Arthur Russell's writing for small ensemble as on 'Instrumentals'. Strangely for this MMW nut my favourite piece is the string quartet 'Strangulation' a ten minute piece featuring tense plucked strings and solemn bowed tones that cut to the core. For this piece alone I seriously recommend this CD. Regular Billy Martin fare returns at the end of this month with the new MMW joint 'Out Louder' featuring John Schofield, a blues, jazz, rock mixup.