Billy Martin's Wicked Knee Releases Heels Over Head


Twenty years after Billy Martin asked Steven Bernstein to help him hatch a freaky avant brass band, Wicked Knee delivers their triumphant full-length debut, Heels Over Head. The 11-track recording, available today from Martin's own Amulet Records, brings together four of the New York City downtown jazz scene's most legendary improvisers, which along with Martin on drums and Bernstein on trumpet, features Curtis Fowlkes on trombone and Marcus Rojas on tuba. The resulting effort is a collection of tunes guaranteed to drop jaws and move feet from the New York juke joint to the New Orleans street corner.

"I've always had this seed planted," says Martin, whose musical friendship with trumpeter Bernstein stretches back to their early days in John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards. "It always made sense to have a small, pocket brass group."

Plans were put on hold for a couple decades, though, when Martin got sidetracked reinventing the jazz combo with a little trio called Medeski Martin & Wood, and Bernstein rebuilt the notion of the big band with Sexmob and the Millennial Territory Orchestra. The idea finally had its day when Martin needed a brass group to complete a segment for his anti-instructional DVD Life on Drums. Trombonist Curtis Fowlkes (Lounge Lizards, Jazz Passengers, Bill Frisell) and tubist Marcus Rojas (Spanish Fly, John Zorn, Michael Jackson) assembled in Martin's backyard and Wicked Knee was born.

The drummer has described his new group as playing "ragtime funk joints with inappropriate avant-garde interludes to keep everything out of focus." But after 20 years of dreaming, and with a full-length record in the quiver and a European tour on the horizon, Martin says, "In some ways it’s coming into focus. But there's still this ebb and flow. It’s about being open to the surprises and letting it come out, capturing the best moments."

Listen to Wicked Knee's rendition of Frank London's "Ghumba Zumba" here, and listen to their rendition of The White Stripes' "The Hardest Button to Button" here.

Wicked Knee Tour Dates :: Wicked Knee News

[Published on: 1/8/13]

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