Reviews > Shows
Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood Ride Again
Medeski Martin Scofield & Wood
New York, NY
As the audience quickly filled the Whitney Museum’s small performance space to see the first of four free Medeski Martin & Wood shows held in celebration of the group’s 20th anniversary, those who showed up late looked down with envy on the intimate sculpture garden which had been converted to a music venue for the evening. Moroccan musician Bachir Attar also was on the bill, which saw MMW reunite with legendary jazz guitarist and longtime collaborator John Scofield.
As Medeski Martin & Wood emerged, the first shrill notes slithered from Attar’s horn like a snake over the deep, earthy tones coming from John Medeski’s organ. Together, they outlined the sun-scorched psychedelic landscape that spanned the first two improvised songs. With the addition of Billy Martin’s drums and Chris Wood’s bass, the airy tune found solid ground and started to groove, particularly when Wood switched from his upright to his electric Fender Precision bass, sending the song into an otherworldly funk jam. Biting his lip and furrowing his brow, Wood locked eyes with Medeski, while Martin wrinkled his nose and shot a perplexed look at the crowd that asked, “Why aren’t you dancing yet?”
The second song had a mood similar to the first, but with a much sharper edge. By switching to his Hofner bass and using a pick, Wood exchanged the muddy funk groove of the previous song for the drone of trippy, high register plucking. He eventually switched back to the Fender bass, playing fast triplet flourishes and raising his eyebrows as if to challenge his bandmates, who responded with flourishes of their own.
Scofield replaced Attar for the rump-shaking “Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing,” which featured a red-faced melodica solo from Medeski and a particularly long and swingin’ upright bass solo from Wood. They ended the tune with a call and response between Martin and Wood, during which Martin used every bell at his disposal (but no whistles, unfortunately).
During the next song, Medeski presided over his mellotron as a mad scientist does his creation. While soloing with one hand, he stuck the other into the back of the boxed instrument, fiddling with its pegs to mix wooden clicking noises with heavy wobbling bass notes. Wood’s funky bass line and Scofield’s jagged guitar riff joined the concoction to form some volatile funk-rock.
The funk came full force during another high-velocity smorgasbord of sounds: Medeski twisted knobs, letting forth a thundering rumble from his clavinet, while Martin provided just the right amount of cowbell. At one point, the interplay between Scofield and Medeski sounded half-way in between bebop and the beeping noises you would expect to hear coming from a supercomputer. This gave way (inevitably) to an old school James Brown-esque funk groove that got the crowd wiggling.
“A Go Go”—the title track to MSMW’s 1998 release—featured brain-tickling solos from Medeski and Scofield. With his right hand flapping percussively along the keyboard like a hooked fish on a dock, Medeski effortlessly multitasked, pushing and pulling the organ’s drawbars with his left hand to sculpt the melody exactly to his design.
During “Little Walter Rides Again”—the climax of the show—one of the fans in the front held up his hands and shook his head incredulously, apparently in rapture. Wood took an upright bass solo without any accompaniment, followed by a writhing duel between guitar and organ. By the end of the song, Martin’s shirt was entirely soaked with sweat.
The smiling band hadn’t walked ten feet from their instruments before the cheering crowd convinced them to return for an encore. As dusk fell, the quartet began playing an intensely emotional version of “Amazing Grace.” Eyes were closed and heads were bobbing both in the band and the audience. The previously rowdy crowd listened to each soloist with a quiet respect. Medeski’s churchy organ solo filled the room with the solemn hymnal as if it were a small Southern parish, while Scofield’s wailing blue notes moved his bandmates as much as they did the audience—all three of them shook their heads back and forth in unison. Although they had flipped the ambiance of the night’s performance on its head, somebody in the audience summed things up well: “That was fucking beautiful, man.”
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
- Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger "The Pequod"
- Trey Anastasio with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center
- More Visions of the Hangout Music Festival 2013 (A Gallery)
- A Blowout for the So So Glos
- Portugal. The Man "Atomic Man" (Official Video)
- Prince "Fixurlifeup" (Official Video)
- Alex Bleeker & The Freaks: How Far Away
- Interlocken Festival to Feature Neil Young, Furthur, String Cheese Incident, Black Crowes, Zac Brown and More
- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "Friend of The Devil" at the Beacon
- The Salvation of Page McConnell (Relix Revisited)
- Interlocken Adds Widespread Panic and John Fogerty, Furthur to Play Workingman’s Dead
- Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa "If Heartaches Were Nickels"
- The Final Ingredient in Dogfish Head’s Grateful Dead Tribute Ale Is…
- Stone Gossard Readies His Moonlander
- Trey Anastasio Band at The Hangout (Video Stream)
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll