For no one in particular – Billy Martin, Grant Calvin Weston, DJ Logic
Amulet Records 012
There are numerous very good reasons why Medeski, Martin, and Wood are one
of the most intelligent jazz outfits working today. One of them is their
implicit acknowledgment that employing their creativity in the recording
studio is quite a different talent than employing it on a live stage. To
this end, since 1998's Combustication, their albums have shown a deep
commitment to exploration, usually with the aid of producer Scotty Hard.
This approach has very much carried over to the solo work of drummer Billy
Martin, easily the most active of the group in leading his own dates.
Through his Amulet Records label, he has released a number of discs,
including illy B eats (2001), a vinyl-only LP of sparsely produced
grooves, and two discs of creative remixes, Drop The Needle (2002)
and Antidote (2003).
Parallel to this, Martin played numerous gigs in New York City venues, such
as Tonic and the Bowery Poetry Club, doing what he's done since the '80s:
jamming with other musicians. He's curated several series of Turntable
Sessions, outings that paired his favorite DJs with his favorite traditional
instrumentalists. But – perhaps due to the same acknowledgement that the
stage was different than the studio – he let those dates stand as they were.
For no one in particular, the latest release on Amulet, grabs a
seemingly random gig out of Martin's datebook, and – for the first time – shoots it out beyond the boundaries of Manhattan. The disc features two of
Martin's long-time collaborators, percussionist G. Calvin Weston and
turntablist DJ Logic, as the trio works their way through a vintage slice of
Downtown Jazz, circa 2003.
The music is a pretty good representation of what Martin's been up to.
Likewise, it's a better-than-average chunk of what one might experience on a
random night at Tonic (performed by anybody) — the most visible locus point
for the scene. But, where much of Downtown's music has degenerated into
macho skronk or impenetrable non-linear electronics, Martin's work has
always remained steadfastly navigable. This is perhaps due to its inherent
rhythmic component, which keeps the music locked to a grid. On For no one
in particular, this is doubled up, with the addition of Weston — and
even tripled, when Logic is at his most percussive. The music is frequently
atonal and difficult, fersure, but there is almost always something to grab
The first real track, "Landing," is a good indication of this, setting the
mood for the rest of the disc. The improvisation moves through several
electro-acoustic modes, each distinguishable by their underrhythms. The
track begins with a straight-up beat, and – gradually – all sorts of other
rhythms begin to fade in, each with a strong melodic component: gamelan-like
bells, a warmly plucked mbira, a shaker, a restatement of the original DJ'ed
beat, which is then thrown under a layer of dubbed echo. It's well possible
that DJ Logic always plays this well during his numerous sit-in appearances
and it's just impossible to hear him, but – either way – he does fine work
here. This is due at least, in part, to Martin and Weston, who are fantastic
listeners, and meet Logic on his own ground (as opposed to just having him
thwack and scratch between solos or verses, as many bands seem to do).
Eventually, Logic slows the dubbed beat down and spreads it out, while the
jam breaks down in a torrent of Weston's free trumpet. The echo increases,
folds over itself, and it's done.
For no one in particular is not just an avant-garde disc driven by
percussionists. It's an avant-garde disc driven by musicians with a
fantastic sense of sound. For those willing to listen, these tracks are a
right treat — chaotic music with a real sense of sonic place. The rhythms
are melodic, the melodies are rhythmic, and – after a certain point – there's no difference at all. Martin, Weston, and Logic find a zone between
and stake a claim.