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Medeski  Martin & Wood - MSMW Live: In Case the World Changes Its Mind CD (album) cover


Medeski Martin & Wood


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.10 | 3 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Guitarist John Scofield is almost an unofficial fourth member of the celebrated Brooklyn avant-jazz trio Medeski Martin & Wood, after enlisting the band for his 1998 solo album "A Go Go", and later returning the favor on the 2006 Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood album "Out Louder".

In truth the quartet should be considered an entirely different band, far enough removed from the forward-thinking aims of MMW to deserve a separate page here at Prog Archives. The larger group is a perfect match of likeminded musical minds, but the four-way collaboration lacks the adventurous spirit of MMW proper, settling instead for the no less groovy but hardly progressive sound of a totally professional and very talented jazz-rock jam band.

Regarding this two-disc live package: the not-so-good news is that the material is drawn almost entirely from the "A Go Go" and "Out Louder" albums, and thus highlight that same, slightly compromised mainstream reduction of the more challenging MMW aesthetic. The compact disc gives no indication of where and when the gig was recorded, but it sounds like a performance supporting the '06 release of "Out Louder", belatedly assembled half a decade later.

The good news is that on stage, in front of what sounds like a raucous crowd of obvious fans, the music comes to life in a way it never did in the studio. The jamming format of the touring quartet allows for lots of soloing, and quite a few tracks are here extended way beyond their original length.

Each musician has his turn in the spotlight, including the rhythm section: check out the startling unaccompanied acoustic bass intro to "Cachaša", or drummer Billy Martin's spasmodic be-bop solo at the start of "Miles Behind". But over the length of two discs you'll also find many long episodes of indiscriminate, self-indulgent noodling (during "Hanuman", "Hottentot", and the almost thirteen-minute title track), when the music refuses to gel.

MSMW may not compare well to MMW, but why compare them at all? The quartet is more like a side project, where the moonlighting artists can forget their more eclectic, experimental instincts and simply have fun playing together. Listeners can enjoy this set in much the same way, without the burden of higher expectations.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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