Categorized | Artists

MMW @ Kino Šiška

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Kavselj

On Wednesday 29th of September at Kino Šiška you will witness jazz at its finest. There aren’t a lot of jazz groups that can be lined with Medeski, Martin & Wood, especially if you look from prespective of new jazz form that they established often called ‘avant-groove’ or sometimes ‘groove-jazz’. The group is consisting of John Medeski on keyboards and piano, Billy Martin on drums and percussion, and Chris Wood on double bass and bass guitar. All three are incredible artists in aspect of musical form, improvisation, innovation and maybe most important: feeling. They started their travel almost two decades ago with a gig at The Village Gate and soon released their first album ‘Notes from the Underground’ which is acoustic all the way. Even if from this critical distance isn’t the most MMW standard album it still basically tells what it is to tell about the trio. Combining free jazz improvisation with grooves that are more common to hip-hop in songs like ‘Uncle Chub’ or nice easy listening and more build up jazz in piece ‘La Garonne’, wild improvisation and experimenting on ‘Querencia’ or on the other side more straight ahead with ‘United’.

Second album ‘It’s a jungle in here’ goes a bit further in experimental mood but also continues to deliver these groovy feelings. With songs ‘Benesha swing’ which is a Monk/Marley rework and ‘It’s a Jungle in here’ they firmly build a model for combining heavy bass lines with strong rhythm section but also stay far from clichés or ‘have heard’ music. There are few ‘heavy’ songs, which rise their artistry above more market orientated projects, but somehow don’t leave that twangled feeling in the stomach.

Fourth album ‘Shack Man’ probably affirmed them as innovators in the field of combining free jazz with strong and straight grooves and also shows whole repertoire from the fingers of Medeski which is playing variety of different pianos and synths. Its very interesting how also post creators (Roadhead) used two songs form this album ‘Dracula’ and ‘Jelly Belly’ and turned them into interesting funky jazz composition.

In the 18 LP discography there are few titles that stand out in various ways. First is probably fifth album ‘Farmers reserve’ which completely brings out the experimental side of them and delivers a project that is most out of this note product. Second is very fruitful collaboration with John Scofield on ‘A Go Go’ and ‘Out Louder’ which gave them wider audience, a push further into funk and also step forward in live performances. ‘Chunk’ form first one in 1997/8 gives us pretty good example.

And then came ‘Let’s go Everywhere’. They say that when MMW go to a studio they never know what is going to come out. And most certainly no one expected a children’s album. But it happened and if you don’t want for your children to be infected with one day no value pop, this is nice try to present them interesting and quality music. But they say when you address kids you always touch their parents to. So… Where is the music?!

Special chapter is also collab with John Zorn. Album that they arranged is a part of Zorn’s ‘Book of angel’ series that comes from second book of Masada. Book of angels is an composition performed by various outfits or combinations of esablished jazz musicians for example Secret Chiefs that also preformed in Kino Šiška this year. MMW preformed Book of Angels on last years Jazz Festival in Ljubljana.

Blue Note signed MMW in 1998 and in very productive period we have to mention at least two albums. First under BN was Combustication which is also their biggest selling one and last one The End of the World Party in 2004. The progression of the band is vivid. From quite rough sound they moved to quite clean one and as for the jamming which can be measured in high percentage at beginning on Blue Note and sometimes became downside and lost clues in stories they told, this became more thought over and cut at the right places, so that beautiful integrity sprung out.

They left Blue Note in 2005, mainly because they never were true sellers of the music on records, but as great improvisers more live profiled band. And in 2008 they started unique project called ‘The Radiolarian Series’. Project is ingenious also in a production sense, as they released recorded live performances and released 3 albums in good year on the road. In many interviews they mention this accession as they are tired of good old market steps – release and tour.

As their overall progression is concerned, there isn’t a really significant album that would mark their whole musical expression, but with every new release there comes stronger feeling on what they want to tell and what goes on in their heads. It’s often a strong reminder that jazz was originally dance music. So lets go from there on.

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