Monday, October 01, 2012

Medeski Martin and Wood - Free Magic (Indirecto Records, 2012)

This album finds keyboardist John Medeski, Chris Wood on bass and Billy Martin on drums continuing their jam-funk based jazz, but with a twist: this album is played solely on acoustic instruments as opposed to the electric jam fusion for which they are most well known. It’s an interesting departure, allowing for more depth and nuance to come out of the group’s music. There are certainly some surprises to be had including right off the bat, with Medeski playing melodica before switching back to the piano. Their jazz bona fides come through in the thoughtful and emotionally wrought “Blues for Another Day” and a very cool set ending pairing the Charles Mingus lament “Nostalgia In Times Square” with Sun Ra’s unearthly “Angel Race.” In between is the dynamic “Where’s Sly” which features an excellent Martin drum interlude, and the fascinating free-form medley of “Free Magic/Ballade in C Minor” which develops a fantasia of angular shards that change and shimmer in the musical light. The group really shows a lot of depth on this recording, flashes of their funky side, along with blues, impressionistic jazz and soul. Free Magic - amazon.com

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