Billy Martin

Illy B Eats, Vol. 2

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Some jazz musicians could care less what occurs outside of jazz; if it isn't straight-ahead acoustic jazz, they aren't interested. But other jazzmen not only acknowledge that other genres of music have merit -- they enthusiastically embrace them. Billy Martin, the Martin in Medeski, Martin & Wood, does exactly that on illy B Eats, Vol. 2, which finds the drummer in a hip-hop state of mind. This instrumental CD isn't an album of rapping any more than it is a hardcore jazz project; rather, illy B Eats, Vol. 2 offers the sort of breakbeats that a rapper's DJ (or a club DJ, for that matter) would find useful. Breakbeats, of course, have been a part of hip-hop since the late '70s -- they were used by hip-hop pioneers like Grandmaster Flash and Kool DJ Herc, and they're still a hip-hop tool in the 21st century. illy B Eats, Vol. 2 is a sequel to 2001's illy B Eats, Vol. 1, which was also a collection of breakbeats and only came out on vinyl at the time (a rarity for the early 2000s). This 2004 release, however, is available on both CD and LP, and whatever the format, it must be stressed that Martin's illy B Eats series is far from a carbon copy of the drummer's jazz-oriented work with Medeski, Martin & Wood. While that group's specialty is experimental jazz (with funk, rock, and hip-hop influences), this album is best described as instrumental hip-hop and funk -- and it would be technically inaccurate to call Vol. 2 electronica because Martin (who is joined by Eddie Bobe on congas) plays these breakbeats instead of programming them electronically. Vol. 2, like Vol. 1, is primarily for DJs, but non-DJs who can appreciate rhythm for the sake of rhythm will find a lot to enjoy about Martin's percussive side project.

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