Billy Martin, aka illy B, is a remarkable drummer, visual artist, and label owner who has successfully carved out his own musical path. As the organic beat-maker for Medeski, Martin & Wood, Martin has successfully blended world-music cultures in to his own unique style. As a composer his range of orchestral, percussion and jazz music never ceases to evolve or push boundaries. Martin is an experimentalist, improviser and educator utilizing many creative forms and techniques beyond sound to express himself. An upcoming DVD Life on Drums is his “anti-instructional’ statement on the art of drumming to be released this fall (2010). His rhythmic studies book Riddim: Claves of African Origin uses his own graphic notation which is intended to make traditionally-rooted oral concepts more accessible beyond Western musical notation.
After working with John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards and other “downtown” groups from New York City in the late 1980’s into the early 90’s, Martin formed Amulet Records, an experimental label “dedicated to the art of percussion, avant-garde and beyond”. This enabled him to self-produce, collaborate, document and develop a rapport with a great variety of unique artists including DJ Olive (Sonic Youth), Ikue Mori (John Zorn), Dave Burrell (Albert Ayler), Grant Calvin Weston (Ornette Coleman), Shelley Hirsh (Christian Marclay) and Cyro Baptista (Derek Bailey).
In 2006, Martin composed and premiered a varied body of chamber works for orchestra, percussion and string quartet for John Zorn’s Tzadik Composer Series CD label entitled Starlings.
Billy Martin has recorded and performed with Medeki Martin & Wood, Bob Moses, John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards, Ned Rothenburg, John Zorn, The John Lurie National Orchestra, John Scofield, Iggy Pop, Chris Whitley, Dave Burrell, DJ Spooky, DJ Olive, Ned Rothenburg, DJ Logic and others. His avant-groove instrumental trio Medeski Martin & Wood continue to break it’s own mold and maintain an unusually large following around the world.
In July at Montalvo, Billy will compose for bass clarinet quartet Edmund Welles and a children’s ensemble workshop.