Medeski Martin & Wood Wrap Up a Blue Note Run
The week before last, Medeski Martin & Wood brought their trademark fusion of funky organ jazz and noisy free form jams to Blue Note Jazz Club. Throughout the week, the group was joined by like-minded collaborators representing various elements of the trio’s influences, from the tribal rhythmic percussion of Aïyb Dieng to the noisy freak outs of Nels Cline and Marc Ribot to the straighter jazz sensibilities of Bill Evans. Last Sunday night, the three took the stage sans accompaniment to conclude what was by most accounts a solid run.
The trio took the stage to a club packed shoulder-to-shoulder in the heart of Greenwich Village and dove right into a set that managed to seamlessly bridge the gap between free jazz and heavy hitting funk. Through the course of a set truncated by jazz club standards, the crowd of diehards and tourists was treated to an instrumental intercourse conducted by three masters of their craft. Their uninterrupted excursion led a gentleman at my table to proclaim, “They do the whole set as one number?”
They stopped to breathe once or twice, but the conversation continued nearly uninhibited. John Medeski nimbly danced his fingers across drawbar and electric organs, tickling ivories and contorting his facial features to shrill crescendos. Billy Martin tapped out rhythmic beats concurrently, dangled percussion toys and even played a crash cymbal with a bow. All the while Chris Wood thumped deceptively complex plodding bass lines across acoustic and electric instruments. Though the venue does not allow recording, hopefully some official audio highlights will be released. Though for these hometown heroes, the next New York City gig is never too far away.