Billy Martin was born in NYC in 1963 to a Radio City Rockette and a concert violinist. At age 17, he devoted himself to music and dove into Manhattan’s thriving, eclectic musical landscape. In the years to follow, he honed his craft everywhere from Broadway orchestra pits to Brazilian nightclubs and burgeoning underground performance spaces.
From the roots of the downtown scene he emerged with Medeski Martin and Wood, bridging the harmonic complexity of jazz, the conversational fluency of free improvisation, and the groove and swagger of classic R&B and funk. A series of albums and high-profile collaborations with John Scofield, John Zorn, iggy Pop, Natalie Merchant, and others, brought the band international acclaim.
Martin has relentlessly pursued diverse musical contexts, from free improvisation to chamber compositions to film scores. Much of his work is available via his Amulet Records label, which recently released the Road to Jajouka—a series of collaborations (produced by Martin) between the Master Musicians of Jajouka and such artists as Ornette Coleman, Flea, Marc Ribot, John Zorn, Lee Ranaldo, Bill Laswell, Mickey Hart, MMW and more.
Martin is also an accomplished filmmaker and visual artist, whose work has been exhibited in solo and group installations around the world including 2014’s Cartegena de indias Bienal in Colombia and the Drawing Sound series at The Drawing Center in NYC (2015)
What began for Martin as tireless enthusiasm for music, percussion, and improvisation evolved into a wide ranging search for the roots of inspiration. Among the most valuable undertakings in this ongoing exploration is teaching. “When I teach,” he explains, “I learn and discover methods to build my vocabulary and style, and I love to help others do the same”
His experiences as a teacher, student, and musician led him to create and direct Life on Drums, a cinematic exploration of percussion and the creative process with his childhood drum instructor, Allen Herman.
Martin has published three books:
- Riddim (2006): Claves of African Origin
- Stridulations for the Good Luck Feast (2011): A folio of thirteen miniature scores to facilitate collective improvisation.
- Wandering (2014) A compilation of 22 short essays on his journey as a creative drummer.
Since arriving in the U.S. from his native Brazil, percussionist, composer and bandleader Cyro Baptista has emerged as one of the premier percussionists in the world, bringing his unique charm and intense rhythmic drive to countless stages, performing on numerous Grammy-winning recordings, and collaborating with myriad luminaries such as Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock, John Zorn, Sting, Trey Anastasio(Phish), Yo-Yo-Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Medeski Martin & Wood and many others.
Described by Thom Jurek of All Music as “simply one of the most limitless musicians we have,” Baptista’s many honors include DownBeat Critics Poll Percussionist of the Year in 2013 and 2011, Jazz Journalists Association Percussionist of the Year in 2007 and 2010, Drum Magazine Percussionist of the Year in 2003 and 2004, and US Artists Walker Fellow in 2009/10.Baptista leads four different ensembles. He has released ten albums and tours continuously throughout the world. He conducts master classes at major musical institutions, such as Juilliard School, Berklee College of Music, Mannes College of Music, The New School, New World Symphony Orchestra, Kimmel Center Jazz Camp, and K-12 schools across the country.
Baptista has a great interest in education and spreading his knowledge, especially to underserved factions of society through his “Sound of Community” initiative.
Perowsky’s notable career has placed him among a small vanguard of players able to move between jazz, experimental music and cutting edge pop and rock. He cut his teeth as a youth playing drums for the likes of Rickie Lee Jones, John Cale, Roy Ayers, James Moody, Bob Berg, Mike Stern and Michael Brecker. Broke ground driving back beats for NY bands Elysian Fields and Joan as Policewoman as well as John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards. He Co-founded the electric jazz group Lost Tribe and has continued to record and perform with pop and jazz legends such as John Scofield, Belle and Sebastian, John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Lou Reed, Pat Martino, Tegan and Sara, Uri Caine, Steven Bernstein, Walter Becker, Vernon Reid, Loudon, Martha and Rufus Wainwright. Ben has produced 8 critically acclaimed records to date. He currently plays in a band called RedCred with John Medeski and Chris Speed.
He also co-produced and launched the Woodstock Jazz festival in 2014 and is the drummer/percussionist for the critically acclaimed musical by Anaïs Mitchell, “Hadestown”.
[Offering an "Awareness" Class]
Famed keyboardist, John Medeski, is not easily contained to a single project or genre; he is credited on over 300 works to date, most notably as one third of the groundbreaking trio, Medeski Martin & Wood.
Equally comfortable behind a Steinway grand piano, Hammond organ or any number of vintage keyboards, Medeski is a highly sought after improviser and band leader whose projects range from work with John Zorn, The Word (Robert Randolph, North Mississippi Allstars), Phil Lesh, Don Was, John Scofield, Coheed & Cambria, Susana Baca, Sean Lennon, Marc Ribot, Irma Thomas, Blind Boys of Alabama, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and many more. Classically trained, Medeski grew up in Ft.Lauderdale, FL where as a teenager he played with Jaco Pastorius before heading north to attend the New England Conservatory. He released his first solo piano record, A Different Time, on Sony’s Okeh Records in 2013, and current projects include a new album in the works with his band MadSkillet (Terrence Higgins, Kirk Joseph, Will Bernard), and HUDSON (a collaboration with Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield & Larry Grenadier), plus a documentary on Medeski Martin & Wood.
[Offering Classes on Stick Control]
Allen has been playing the drums since 1960. His goal is to elevate the role of drums from that of a rhythm instrument to one of the musical voices that focuses the intent of the melody.
Payton MacDonald (b. 1974, Idaho Falls, Idaho) is a composer/improviser/percussionist/singer/educator. MacDonald was a founding member of new-music chamber orchestra superstars Alarm Will Sound and has also toured internationally as a solo marimbist and a member of various chamber ensembles including Galaxy Percussion, NJPE, Present Music, and Verederos. He has commissioned many works from today's leading composers, including Charles Wuorinen, Don Freund, Elliott Sharp, and many others. And many of the world's best ensembles have performed MacDonald's music, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, JACK Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, et al. MacDonald has performed in the world's best venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Barbican, and many more. MacDonald studied music at the University of Michigan (B.F.A.) and the Eastman School of Music (M.M., D.M.A.). His composition teachers include Sydney Hodkinson, Robert Morris, Dave Rivello, Bright Sheng, and Augusta Read Thomas. His percussion teachers include John Beck and Michael Udow, and tabla with Bob Becker and Pandit Sharda Sahai. Further studies include Dhrupad vocal with the Gundecha Brothers. MacDonald has been to India many times, including for nine months as a Senior Fulbright-Nehru Fellow. The Los Angeles Times described MacDonald as an ". . . inventive, stylistically omnivorous composer and gifted performer . . ." MacDonald serves as a Full Professor of Music at William Paterson University and he is a Co-Artistic Director of SHASTRA, an organization the brings together the great music of India and the West.