Category Archives: Music

FAITU#50

FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE
(FAITU#50)
2004-06-23

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  • MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD
    Download MMW gig Read MMW txt file Marquee Theatre, Tempe, AZ
    Wednesday, June 23, 2004
    2004-06-23.nak-cm101.24783.t-flac16
    Set 1: Open Improv > Improv > Mami Gato > Bass Solo > Rise Up > Organ Solo > Lonely Avenue > Improv > Toy Dancing > Improv

    Set 2: Seven Deadlies* > Improv > Improv > Improv > Improv > Bass Solo > EOTWP Improv+ > Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho > Drum Solo > Blue Pepper

    Encore: Bass Solo > Queen Bee

    * starting @7:49 the tune’s outro riffs on Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues Are (Thelonius Monk)
    + not really the song proper, but this improvisation is built around End Of The World Party

MMW 2004-07-31 @Mountain Winery, Saratoga, CA

– SET I (tracks 1-9) –
– SET II (tracks 10-19) –


– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#50)

Pure 2004 groovy goodness.

In a switch-up for MMW, the first set is more song oriented (with plenty of Improv too!), while the 2nd set sees the meat of the evening’s spontaneous composing.

First set begins with some Open space exploration that leads smoothly into a wonderful Improv, everyone jiving together and taking us ever so nicely into Mami Gato, a beautiful song which was fairly new at this time having debuted in fall ’03 and would be released in fall ’04 on the forthcoming END OF THE WORLD PARTY (JUST IN CASE) album, once again the band is tight and then moves towards an emerging Bass Solo that bridges over to Rise Up, which doesn’t last too, too long, but hits with it’s wacky groove before dissolving into an Organ Solo leading into Ray Charles’ Lonely Avenue, and down that Avenue we go before suddenly the band leads into another KILLER (if too short!) Improv which takes us to Toy Dancing (’04 was a GREAT year for this tune), and then closing the set with a final Improv that just drives home how INCREDIBLY FLUID the past hour of music has been. Set break.

Medeski & Wood 2004-05-28 @Harmony Park Music Garden, Geneva, MN

2nd set finds the weirdly sinister feel of Seven Deadlies opening and getting the set going with intense energy — an energy that remains — and in the tune’s final moments we get a slight reference to Thelonious Monk’s fun quirky tune Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues Are, a nice nod to a piano player I think had a tremendous influence on John’s playing. When in doubt, listen to more Monk! The Deadlies doesn’t end but rather moves into the first of several distinct Improv sections, some really inventive spontaneous composing happening here showcasing various moods/rhythms/melodies until we once again land in a Bass Solo which leads to something seemingly familiar, but not quite, and so I’ve labelled it EOTWP Improv since the improvisation is built around the song End Of The World Party but isn’t quite the song proper, but that bumps right along into Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho, followed by a HOT Drum Solo from illyB, and a slamming Blue Pepper — gets a little wacky near the end — to close the night. Common for this time, the band Encores with a Bass Solo > Queen Bee, and I love that tune’s slinky groove and the way Chris’ solos lead into it … VERY soothing …

MMW @The Mangy Moose, Teton Village, WY
2004-02-17

There are a few sound discrepancies, as the taper notes in the textfile, but nothing that should deter listening to this stunning example of MMW’s ’04 sound — this is one of many shows that offer similar adventure with altogether different grooves. I think hitting “play” on the start of the first set would be a VERY satisfying way to spend your Friday Afternoon In The Universe … maybe the 2nd set can occupy your evening …

enjoy the grooves,
dug



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FAITU#49

FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE
(FAITU#49)
1993-09-18

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  • MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD
    Download MMW gig Read MMW txt file Georgia Theater, Athens, GA
    Saturday, September 18, 1993
    1993-09-18.sbd.1.t-flac16
    One Set: It’s a Jungle in Here > Beeah, Syeeda’s Song Flute > Worms > Open Outro > Chubb Sub, Bass Solo > Bemsha Swing / Lively Up Yourself, Listen Here, Moti Mo

Medeski & Martin @Lucille’s, Knoxville, TN
1993-09-12

– ONE SET (tracks 1-8) –


– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#49)

Was anybody at this gig? We have notes indicating this *may* have been an opening set for Col. Bruce & The Aquarium Rescue Unit, but not sure — it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s where this gig’s energy came from! (And there is a small announcement blurb at the very end of the Moti Mo track where the guy (sound like Al Schnier from moe., but that can’t be right) begins announcing the next act, but it cuts before you hear the band name! HA!) It’s honestly been a while since I listened to this show, not wanting to spoil the early gig listens with too many listens, but I’m listening right now and the band is HOT and on FIRE. The set *may* also be incomplete, but there’s 80min+ music here, so that seems pretty accurate if they were the opener for Col Bruce + ARU.

Recording begins on pretty much the first chaotic note of It’s A Jungle In Here, from the album by the same name — which is a slightly more edgy sounding and raw version of the tune that eventually becomes Sequel on the album FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE. The trio bite right into this early MMW-groove and we can hear why we were all captured by these guys early on — a feel that matures with age, but for me contains no less intensity — and IAJIH is just raw energy getting this set rolling on a high note.

MMW c.1993

Beeah is up next, sliding smoothly right out of the final notes of IAJIH. Again, Beeah benefits from the band’s young hunger in this performance and they just attack the groove, making perhaps for a more intense-than-usual mid-section of Beeah where things really heat-up. The outro section of the tune has some beautiful early work from Wood on his stand-up bass, until we hit that pulsing section that wraps-up the tune tightly.

Mr. John Coltrane’s vibe enters the set next in the form of Syeeda’s Song Flute, also knodding to the band’s early name “Coltrane’s Wig” — a name John recently mentioned that Col. Bruce was rather fond of. Syeeda’s has a slightly slower tempo than the tune takes on in later years, but Chris’ bass has a PHAT sound giving some real ummph to the tune.

MMW @Lucille’s, Knoxville, TN 1993-09-12

The aftermath of Syeeda’s yields Worms! One of the more wacky melodies in the band’s arsenal, Worms is always welcome for its crazy vibe — I’ve only ever caught it once, but it was WILD! These early gigs see numerous performances, since the band’s repertoire was only so big, but they are most certainly already playing the game of “how can we make this version differ?”, and we love that attitude! Worms doesn’t quite finish properly, but rather bursts into an Open Outro exploring the space in the room, until the familiar Chubb Sub groove begins and take us swirling into a dance party. At this point, Chubb Sub hasn’t quite found its niche as a closing or encore tune, so we find it more mid-set at times making for some cool vibes and energy.

Next John steps to the mic (he used to do that) and introduces the impending Monk/Marley medley they’re about to bust out. So first we get Chris showing us his early chops on the stand-up as the Bass Solo plods along until he hits that wonderful line and Bemsha Swing is, well, in full swing! Love these early versions of the medley too, with that young energy and the keys’ sounds at this time … cool shit …

Listen Here is up next, a tune by Eddie Harris — you might know another tune he’s known for, Freedom Jazz Dance, made famous by Miles Davis; also played by Jerry Garcia’s Legion of Mary group, for those of the Dead persuasion. MMW’s take on Listen Here adds bit more pep to the tune compared to the original by Harris — along with a sinister Beeah tease c.6:43-7:03 — but it’s such a fun melody and boppin’ tune! Shame MMW never really played it much … I think this is the only known performance … fits perfectly with the MMW sound though. And gonna have to check out some more Eddie Harris! For now, you can Listen Here for his version:

Closing the show, as it often does when it makes an appearance, King Sunny Ade’s Moti Mo takes the crowd out, once again with John acting as the reluctant announcer … I’ve never had the pleasure of catching this tune live, which is pretty rare at this point, but in the early-mid ’90s it was frequently played (cool version with horns, led by Steven Bernstein, on the album IT’S A JUNGLE IN HERE). It’s always patient, it’s always beautiful, and it’s always a welcome vibe: MOTI MO! Here’s some interesting tidbits about King Sunny Ade’s versions, which are more appropriately titled Mo Ti Mo:

“1983
Originally recorded in 1974 in Ade’s first self released record, the song is a plea to his fans, “My people gather round me, this journey I am on, is it carrying me forward or backward?”
The original chorus in 1974 was Mio Mo meaning, “I don’t know.” When the song was re-released for Island Records on the cusp of international success, the chorus was changed to Mo Ti Mo which means, “Now I know.”

… and you can check out that 1983 version right here:

The mic moves to Billy at the end of the show as he thanks the crowd, etc … There’s some weird stuff right at the end of the last track, where we hear that announcer I mentioned earlier welcoming the following mystery act (Col & ARU?), but it cuts and that’s that …

Most of us into MMW love these early years … and this show is a perfect example as to why, so tune in or download and enjoy an old school Friday Afternoon In The Universe

enjoy the grooves,
dug



FAITU#44+#45+#46+#47+#48

FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE
(FAITU#44) ~ 1999-01-13
(FAITU#45) ~ 1999-01-14
(FAITU#46) ~ 1999-01-15
(FAITU#47) ~ 1999-01-16
(FAITU#48) ~ 1999-01-17

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  • MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD (w/ DJ Logic + Daniel Carter)
    Download MMW gig Read MMW txt file The Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
    Wednesday, January 13, 1999
    1999-01-13.unknown.22.t-flac16
    Set 1: Wig Wise, Improv > Open Improv > Bass’n’Drums > Note Bleu* > Latin Shuffle > Drum Solo > Drum Intro > Improv > Brigas Nunca Mais*, Percussion Improv, Start/Stop

    Set 2: Open Improv > Improv > Improv > Toy Dancing > Open Improv > Improv > Open Improv > Whatever Happened To Gus Improv > Buster Rides Again > Drums’n’DJ, Psychedelic Sally > Improv > Drum Solo > Bass’n’Drums > Everyday People

    * 1st known performance
    w/ DJ Logic, last 2 songs of set one, and all of set 2
    w/ Daniel Carter (sax, flute, trumpet) all of set 2

Chris Wood c.1999

– SET I (tracks 1-8) –
– SET II (tracks 9-16) –



  • MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD
    (w/ DJ Logic + Jay Rodriguez + Charlie Hunter)

    Download MMW gig Read MMW txt file The Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
    Thursday, January 14, 1999
    1999-01-14.mg3000.112708.t-flac16
    Set 1: Open Improv > Improv > Note Bleu > Drum Solo > Improv# > Bass’n’Drums > Bass Solo, Brigas Nunca Mais, Psychedelic Sally (w/Drums’n’DJ breakdown)*

    Set 2: Percussion Improv > Improv > Combustication Improv > Whatever Happened to Gus (w/?? melody) > Drum Solo > Seven Deadlies (Bridge)#* > Toy Dancing#* > Open Improv#* > Church of Logic#* > Hey Joe#*

    # with Jay Rodriguez – tenor sax & flute
    * w/ Charlie Hunter – guitar
    Last track of 1st Set & all of Set 2 with DJ Logic

    NOTES:
    – Whatever Happened to Gus contains an unknown melody mixed in (much like when they play Creole Love Call (w/ Snake Anthony bassline))

Billy Martin @Seaport Atrium, New York, NY
1999-06-07

– SET I (tracks 1-5) –
– SET II (tracks 6-9) –



  • MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD
    (w/ DJ Logic + Josh Roseman + Chris Whitley + Vernon Reid + Danny Blume)

    Download MMW gig Read MMW txt file The Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
    Friday, January 15, 1999
    1999-01-15.akg-c100.984.t-flac16
    Set 1: Improv > Note Bleu > Bass Solo, Improv, Cape Verdean Blues#, Brigas Nunca Mais, Home Is Where You Get Across*

    Set 2: Percussion Improv > Open Improv > Buster Rides Again (w/ Drum Solo) > Start/Stop > Toy Dancing#+ > Improv#+ > Psychedelic Sally#+, No Ke Ano Ahiahi > Church of Logic^ > Open Improv^, Hey Joe^

    # with Josh Roseman – trombone
    * with Chris Whitley – guitar and vocals
    + with Vernon Reid – guitar
    ^ with Danny Blume – guitar
    All of 2nd set with DJ Logic

MMW @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC, NY 1999-01-15

– SET I (tracks 1-7) –
– SET II (tracks 8-17) –



  • MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD (w/ DJ Logic + Oren Bloedow)
    Download MMW gig Read MMW txt file The Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
    Saturday, January 16, 1999
    1999-01-16.akg391.112712.t-flac16
    Set 1: Open Improv, Scrontch Meister, Improv > Open Improv, Brigas Nunca Mais, Sugar Craft > Improv#, The Love Bug#

    Set 2: Psychedelic Sally > Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho, Improv > Caravan, Improv > Percussion Improv, Drum Solo > Whatever Happened To Gus (w/?? melody) > Toy Dancing > Bass Solo, Note Bleu > Hey Joe

    # with Oren Bloedow on guitar and vocals
    All of 2nd set and much of Set 1 with Logic (enters for Sugar Craft)

Chris Wood, DJ Logic & Billy Martin c.1999

Chris Wood, DJ Logic & Billy Martin c.1999

– SET I (tracks 1-7) –
– SET II (tracks 8-17) –



  • MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD w/ many guests
    Download MMW gig Read MMW txt file The Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
    Sunday, January 17, 1999
    1999-01-17.akg-c3000.986.t-flac16
    Set 1: Psychedelic Sally#, Improv#, Whatever Happened to Gus*, Open Improv+ > Seven Deadlies (Bridge)+, Note Bleu, Have Mercy NJ^, Brigas Nunca Mais

    Set 2: Percussion/Violin Improv$ > Basso Profundo Improv$ > Open Improv$, Sand, Scrontch Meister (w/ Drum Solo), Toy Dancing%&, Love in Outer Space@, Angel Race (I’ll Wait for You)@# > Open Improv@# > Hey Joe#

    # w/ Marc Ribot on Guitar/Vocals
    * w/ Steve Cannon on Vocals
    + w/ Doug Yates on Bass Clarinet
    ^ w/ Oren Bloedow on Guitar/Vocals
    @ w/ Eric Hipp on Tenor Sax
    $ w/ Eyvind Kang on Violin
    % w/ Jay Rodriguez on Tenor Sax
    & w/ John Dirac on Guitar
    All of 2nd set and last tune of set 1 w/ DJ Logic (enters for Brigas Nunca Mais; absent from Sand)

Bowery Ballroom

– SET I (tracks 1-8) –
– SET II (tracks 9-16) –


– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#44 + #45+ #46 + #47 + #48)

MMW @the Bowery Ballroom, Jan 13-17, 1999. What can I say? LOTS! Read below – HA! But honestly, *listen*. Just do yourself a favour and soak up EVERY NIGHT OF THIS RUN. Then, *YOU* tell me which is the best of the run – huh? I can’t decide! I’ve listened to all these gigs, so many times … and just did again, a number of times over the past few weeks. Again, was blown away, heard some sounds I hadn’t noticed before or had forgotten about, and simply had a VERY rewarding time listening through these 5 nights. We get a taste of so much different MMW, and the guys have gotten nothing but stronger as a trio by ’99 so bringing in the guests finds them wielding their trio power underneath with perhaps a little more control than we hear, by comparison, in the edgy sounds of the ’96 SHACK PARTIES — not that one run is “better” than the other, just different. Listen to both! But for now, let’s dig into these ’99 MMW sounds, and the audible space they shared so joyously with their musical guests on this 5 night Bowery Ballroom run in mid-January ’99 …

MMW c.1999

** WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13, 1999 **
Wig Wise to start is a nice way to get the 5-night Bowery Ballroom run underway as it echoes back to an earlier time in jazz history, and thus Blue Note history — the run’s impetus being a celebration of Blue Note’s 60th anniversary. It’s a Duke Ellington tune from the album MONEY JUNGLE, played by a trio of Ellington on piano, Charles Mingus on bass, and Max Roach on drums — it’s not a Blue Note album, but it is an old school jazz album we know the trio loves, is in some sense modeled after, and Billy has professed his love from the stage for the album — CHECK IT OUT if you haven’t! But here’s the Ellington trio playing Wig Wise:

– Then we jump ahead to the late ’90s and the full electric MMW sound with a darkly sinister improvisation — these next 10min or so are insanely tight and groovy with the trio just locked right in, leading to a Bass’n’Drums breakdown that takes us into the first known performance of Note Bleu — really cool to hear, and they play it each night of the run along with a few other tunes they focus on, but which is also a perfect example of how the band can play the same song each night and really make something new of it, for real.

Latin Shuffle, followed by some Drum work that opens into another Improv section, with again the trio riding high together and taking us to the sweet sounds of Brigas Nunca Mais, a short percussion Improv, and then a KILLER Start/Stop to close the set — they really know how to work this tune by this time, and Logic adds a nice layer.

– 2nd set opens with some very loose open space exploration — I always wonder what’s going through the musicians’ heads in these sections? Especially some of the guests … ? I love following through these open improvisations into the more solid grooves and spontaneous compositions the band creates, but if they didn’t *lead* somewhere, I’m not sure I’d be as big of a fan … like, if this is all the band came out and did … well, maybe once in a while, but if this was there main “thang”, I couldn’t dig in as much, I don’t think. The beauty and fun in the grooves is what I love those open spaces helping to find.

Daniel Carter

Toy Dancing comes out of the opening improvisations, and is another tune that’s featured each of these 5 nights, and we should be glad it is because EACH VERSION of this tune over the run is INCREDIBLE. Start with this one and move forward … Daniel Carter on sax is extra cool on this one …

– More Open Improvisation follows, along with some more groovy vibes, before we get what I’ve labelled as a Whatever Happened To Gus Improv because it’s not quite the tune, and it doesn’t utilize the alternate melody that the other versions do over the course of this run. Love that bassline …

Buster Rides Again moves us into a Drums’n’DJ jam, which stops and then Psychedelic Sally (another run staple) launches out in groovy form (what happened to this tune? They don’t play it beyond spring ’99 … ?), another short Improv, leading to some further Drum and Bass work, and finishing us on a gospel vibe, as they do each night of the run (although with a different tune for the other 4 nights), we get treated to a lovely cover of Sly’s Everyday People.

** THURSDAY, JANUARY 14, 1999 **
– Exploration of Open space by the trio gets the 2nd night going at the Bowery Ballroom run celebrating Blue Note’s 60th Anniversary, which moves into some great Improv from the trio, beginning this night in fine form and setting the vibe for what will be an experimental evening of music — arguably the best of the run, but honestly *EACH NIGHT* can make that case for different reasons.

Note Bleu follows, making its 2nd appearance of both its life and the run, indicating the guys are digging this new groove, which opens into a short Drum Solo leading to an Improv featuring Jay Rodriguez on sax and he KILLS it! This Improv dissolves into a Bass’n’Drums jam, then Bass Solo, into yet another appearance by Brigas Nunca Mais — it too making its 2nd appearance of both its life and the run, having debuted the night before. The super groovy Psychedelic Sally closes the set with Logic joining the trio, allowing he and illyB to get down a bit mid-tune, with Charlie Hunter filling into the groove with his super sweet guitar sounds (if you like Charlie on this gig, be sure to check out his sit-in during MMW’s 2002 Montreal Jazz Fest performance.

Billy Martin @Seaport Atrium, New York, NY 1999-06-07

– A Percussion Improv > Improv begins the 2nd set, a further exploration into the wild vibes of this night, and this is a weird borderline-Open-groove that explodes into a HEAVY Combustication Improv — SO GOOD! — and then Whatever Happened to Gus saunters in, accompanied by an UNKNOWN MELODY that appears in live versions of Gus … if anyone recognizes this, I’d love to know what it is! (The band does a similar treatment with live versions of Your Name Is Snake Anthony which they couple with the melody from Creole Love Call.)

– A Drum Solo follows Gus and serves as an intro to the Seven Deadlies (Bridge), a piece MMW seemed to debut over the course of the end of the fall ’98 tour, it was like it appeared in an improvisation on 11/19/98 and then later developed into what we labelled Seven Deadlies (Bridge), an incomplete composition that will eventually be more fleshed out to become the full tune we know as Seven Deadlies. Anyway, it’s at this point that Jay Rodriguez and Charlie Hunter return to the stage, and the two jump right into this wacked groove.

Charlie Hunter

– Another Toy Dancing comes next, 2nd of the run (there will be 3 more), and again VERY cool to hear them twist this tune around and open up so much room to the guests. Super nice flute sounds from Rodriguez during this one and Hunter adds lots of little flavours throughout, so the trio and Logic dig in and rock this tune hard. The dancing then blurts out to just some Open exploration and tinkering before we feel the power from the Church of Logic — LOVE that tune, its groove, and this version is HOT with what the guests add … then things cool down nicely as we slide into the gospel-zone of Hey Joe, with this being the first known performance of the Hendrix cover … a nice finish to the evening, showcasing the guests, and setting a precedent for the closing of the next 3 nights … Hey Joe gospelized will be their final notes …

** FRIDAY, JANUARY 15, 1999 **
– Sounds begin slow and exploratory, seeking comforts of other sounds … illyB adding metal, John organ swirls, and then Chris comes in with a steady quiet plunk on the acoustic. The sounds separate and converge in various forms over the next few minutes, creating a beautiful soundscape of sorts … with that wacky MMW edge … with that harsher edge creeping a bit more a few minutes into this journey. Then the edge drops off a bit, things get a bit more open and chaos builds as John swirls on the piano, illyB is now on the kit and Chris is following right along, until we land in the sounds of Note Bleu, as noted clearly a favourite of the band’s being brand new, and opens interestingly into a Bass Solo — they kind of toy with how to surround this groove over the course of the run and later spring tour.

MMW @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC, NY 1999-01-15

– A groove begins from nothing and they are ready to groove begins things solidify pretty quickly into a REALLY nice bouncing Improv. John working the clav and organ together, tweaking cool sounds among his melody, while Chris and Billy propel the beat along. John is really leading this here and the other guys are happy to follow his lead, adding their responses to his shifts. Then close to 5min or so the groove downshifts a bit to something more intimate and less celebratory. The 3 working as 1 — this is the MMW improvisations we all love, me thinks. VERY much a group mind at work, tension builds with a heavier vibe taking root and pushing out until it deflates to a metronomic lullaby feel, then an open feel, and the improvisation finishes up as a stand alone piece.

Josh Roseman

Josh Roseman is invited to the stage after Billy’s welcome to night #3, and the players kick into Horace Silver’s classic Cape Verdean Blues

… and this is just great jazzy fun. A cool treat in the MMW repertoire as they’ve never played this much — just during HOT gigs! (Yes, this night could also be the *best* of the run … depending on what you’re listening for!)

– Roseman leaves the stage, the trio jives through the beautiful Brigas Nunca Mais, one of the regular tunes on this run, and then Chris Whitley hits the stage for a rockin’ Home Is Where You Get Across.

– Some Percussive sounds get the 2nd set going, moving into some Open Improv exploration, before we start hearing some piano tinkering and suddenly Buster Rides Again! Buster is always a hoppin’ tune, never disappoints. Check out the original by Bud Powell if you haven’t:

– The band rides Buster out into the slinky groove of Start/Stop — oh, the Stops! Oh, the Starts! DIG IT!

– Sounds emerge from the end of S/S, and once again Toy Dancing shakes its ass, with Josh Roseman’s trombone and Vernon Reid’s guitar blowing this version WIDE OPEN! This is a great tune for guests!

Vernon Reid

– Toy Dancing spills into the start of the subsequent Improv with Roseman and Reid remaining on stage. The slide into improvisation takes on a bit of an ambient open feel as the players search for where to go. The sounds remain pretty open until around 4min when a quirky groove emerges, seemingly with everyone morphing at the same time — good listeners on stage! This is a very weird thing that’s growing here, cool playful back and forth between the trombone and guitar, and eventually turns into something you can REALLY DANCE to — I just sat down, myself! Slows down into a walking bassline with Logic mixing against it, then the trombone takes lead as things wind down into yet another SMOKIN’ Psychedelic Sally, again Roseman and Reid adding super nice flavours.

Danny Blume

– Roseman and Reid leave the stage, and trio + Logic strike into the beauty of No Ke Ano Ahiahi, which drifts into the always welcome Church of Logic groove! Danny Blume has hit the stage for Church and he is KILLING it! This moves into an Open Improv, before once again the gospelized Hey Joe takes us to the end of the evening …

** SATURDAY, JANUARY 16, 1999 **
– A stand alone Open Improv gets this 4th night underway on a wacky note …

– The Scrontch Meister rises and gets the groove portion of the evening going, and the Meister nails it!

Chris Wood, DJ Logic & Billy Martin c.1999

– Next up a dark distorted keys chord begins things with a fuzzy bassline and weighted drum beat — the trio is NOT messing around with the time they’re allotting to improvisation during these nights. This Improv cooks along in super groovy mode for about 6min, some cool funking by Chris in here, takes a darker turn just before that 6min mark (Chris is just thumping his bass!) lasting about a minute, and then the space Opens up, led by Billy, and the sounds of the room are explored for a few minutes before coming to a stop.

Brigas Nunca Mais, boppin’ out again on this run, is a beat the band loves.

Sugar Crafts itself down into an illyB groove, with Chris adding a cool sound, Logic sampling, and John’s murky keys, as Oren Bloedow hits the stage, and this turns into a nice raucous bluesy jam. Set closes with one of Oren’s tunes, The Love Bug, which is a fun bluesy rock tune.

– 2nd set = best of the run? Maybe … ? Again, not the lone contender for the title … but we’ve just got the trio and Logic for this set and lots of room to move! Psychedelic Sally > Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho begins the set in a SUPER GROOVY vibe that permeates what follows, giving us some stellar improvisations as a result.

Logic sounds out a siren (that’s him, right?), and some watery percussion begins, more murky keys from John, and I think Chris is doing some bow work before switching to some plucking — which is a sweet sound to emerge from this dark-ish vibe. Billy picks up the pace with his percussive shell work, John adds some odd quick piano, while Chris continues to plunk along and Logic adds atmosphere. Things are pretty loose, but something is brewing … the band is tinkering a bit, sounding a bit open, and perhaps these last few minutes are better heard as an introduction of sorts as Chris slides into the bassline after about 5min, Billy starts that familiar beat on the toms, and John brings in the piano melody I’m sure we all love: Caravan moves across our ears. The trio doesn’t play this often, clearly an homage to the Money Jungle trio of Ellington/Mingus/Roach, which I’m sure was a bit of a model for the MMW trio.

John Medeski c.1999

– We get some hilarious stage replies from Billy to what I’m sure sounds like nonsense as some of the audience shouts/demands requests — love it! HA!

– Suddenly another dark groove begins with John on some unique key sounds compared to what we’ve been hearing; Chris on some bowing; Billy tinkering and Logic inserting some scratches, until Billy moves to the kit and this picks up a bit but then takes a bit of a sudden shift between 4-5min, getting almost Worms-like — oh yeah, this is cool! The tempo picks up more and more, pulsing, until it crashes a bit, and then (just like Worms) it re-starts and we’re swirling again. I’ve found this behaviour to be something the band uses at times, where an improvisation is modelled after a song’s structure … but maybe that’s me listening in too much? Nah, I think they do this at times … which is fine by me, and has created lots of cool grooves … not a crutch, just another improvisation tool, I think; they’re also completely original in at times in their improvisation, so I think the modelling is just a mode. Anyhoo, this boils down to some percussive sounds leading into a Percussion Improv to finish out the moment.

– A Drum Solo > Whatever Happened To Gus (w/?? melody) follows, and it’s cool to hear the guys toy with this tune but WHAT IS THAT MELODY John plays along with an instrumental Gus!? Anyone?! Bueller? Man, I wish I could place that … I’m sure it has to be something we know, a melody from an old jazz tune or …

Toy Dancing is up next, no real guest solos on this one, just the trio and Logic tearing up the Dancing groove — yep, they dig this and I love the Toy Dancings from ’99 … I guess the tune got off on a good foot happening every night of this year’s opening run … good vibes! Bass Solo bumps out the end, with a soothing Note Bleu > Hey Joe to settle down the grooves a bit, with no less intensity, and close out the night …

** SUNDAY, JANUARY 17, 1999 **
– Another performance of Psychedelic Sally begins this 5th and final night at the Bowery, featuring Mr. Marc Ribot on guitar — need I say more. DIG IT!

– A GROOVIN’ Improv is up next with Ribot once again adding that Ribot-esque touch — LOVE IT! Seems like a basic bluesy jam, but super fun to hear these 4 cats get down. Cool interplay over the jam and some nice patience over the last couple minutes as it winds down.

Marc Ribot c.2001

– Then the band invites up Steve Cannon for a wicked fun full version of Whatever Happened To Gus — love the spoken word! Cannon is clearly having a ball, as are the guys themselves.

– The trio then invites up Doug Yates on bass clarinet and start off into some Open Improv, giving Doug some room to explore before they hit into the Seven Deadlies (Bridge), and Doug’s deep sounds add a very cool vibe.

Doug Yates

– Another run through the new-at-the-time Note Bleu finds the trio jiving with the tune’s groove more and more, followed by another fun Oren Bloedow tune with Have Mercy NJ, and then one of the run’s popular tunes, Brigas Nunca Mais, finishes out the set with Logic joining for the groove.

– The gig’s 2nd set, the final of the run, may well be the best — who can say for sure?! I’ve said that about much of this run because it is ALL SO GOOD! This last set isn’t the most fluid, as there are plenty of pauses as the guests switch up throughout, but when the ensembles are playing they are creating OUTSTANDING sounds. The opening Percussion/Violin Improv with Eyvind Kang on violin, and Logic on stage as well, is a percussive journey moving nicely into the more full Improv to follow, Kang still on stage, but this is still very loose and gets even looser as it moves into even more Open space.

Bowery Ballroom

– The trio takes a moment to treat our ears to the sounds of Sand, so beautiful, then just the three of them groove out to Scrontch Meister one more time on this run, allowing Billy a Drum Solo mid-tune, which is a really fun tune that only stays in the repertoire briefly, unfortunately.

Jay Rodriguez

– The rest of this set is tops! Jay Rodriguez, back again with his sax on this night, and John Dirac on guitar hit the stage and BLOW UP Toy Dancing! Seriously, check out these cats! Dirac has a sweet tone and is nice to hear … but he and Rodriguez leave the stage, and Eric Hipp enters on tenor sax for a take on the wild Sun Ra composition, Love In Outer Space — check out Sun Ra’s version for some fun comparison — so many players, so thick and layered:

– Hipp remains on stage for the first portion of this show/run closing sequence of Angel Race (I’ll Wait for You) > Open Improv > Hey Joe, joined by Marc Ribot, but Hipp leaves for the final number leaving just Ribot with Logic and MMW. Wow. Both Hipp and Ribot are on fire in Angel Race, another crazy and incredible Sun Ra tune — first known performance, I believe. I had the pleasure of catching an Angel Race in May of ’99 and loved it, before it gets mashed up in the medley with Nostalgia For Times Square, which is cool too … but hearing MMW bust this open with the guests on stage is really nice, and of course leads to some more Open Improv, carrying us over to the final gospelized closing of Hey Joe, with Ribot laying it out in fine fashion intermixing so well as he does with MMW …

A legendary historic run by some of the greatest improvisers to hit the live stage. MMW were helping Blue Note celebrate its anniversary, but now we can use these recordings — THANK YOU TAPERS!!! — to celebrate MMW any time with 5 outstanding shows, 10 sets of music, splattered with musical guests who all seem to be of like mind … yeah, a good way to start your Friday Afternoon In The Universe

enjoy the grooves,
dug



FAITU#43

FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE
(FAITU#43)
1998-11-19

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  • MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD
    (w/ Thundercloud Bros, DJ Logic, Clyde Stubblefield, & Marc Ribot)

    Download MMW gig Read MMW txt file Barrymore Theatre, Madison, WI
    Thursday, November 19, 1998
    1998-11-19.unknown.26805.t-flac16
    One Set: Chanting/Improv Intro# > Church Of Logic > Start/Stop > Tubby > Sugar Craft, Latin Shuffle > Bass Solo, Drum Intro* > Toy Dancing Improv*, Just Like I Pictured It, Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho, Open Improv+ > Improv+^ > C-Jam Blues+ > Spy Kiss+ > Combustication+

    Encore: No Ke Ano Ahiahi+

    One Set Only

    w/ DJ Logic for most of show
    # w/ Johnny Thundercloud and his brothers
    * w/ Clyde Stubblefield on Billy’s set (Billy on cowbell, talking drum)
    + w/ Marc Ribot
    ^ w/ Seven Deadlies (Bridge) bassline; first known performance of music related to this tune

Medeski @North Sea Jazz Festival, Paulus Hall, Congresce, The Hague, Netherlands 1998-07-11

– ONE SET (tracks 1-13) –


– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#43)

One of my favourite ways to hear an MMW gig open is with the Chanting of the Thundercloud Bros., the blessing. This opening track finds the trio bubbling up underneath the chant after a few minutes, exploring an extended intro of sorts to Church Logic — this is one my favourite COMBUSTICATION tracks, and it’s real nice live. The bassline is infectious, and when the Thunderclouds leave the stage and that bass and drums kick it, it’s perfect. The end of this creeps into Start/Stop, yet another tune enjoying a lengthy opening (and that’s fine by me). S/S is AWESOME any time, and the “Stop” sections go out there nicely, having breathed more and more room into those moments over the past year or so, making the “Start” sections, oh, so much sweeter when they hit …

Wood @North Sea Jazz Festival, Paulus Hall, Congresce, The Hague, Netherlands 1998-07-11

Again, no stopping and the band moves smoothly into Tubby, which brightens the vibe a bit with the opening tunes leaning a little more to the darker side of the scale. A short Drums’n’Bass breakdown in the middle, Billy moves to his tambourine for a bit — damn he can play that thing! Tune wraps up with John and Logic jumping back in and into Sugar Craft, featuring DJ Logic a fair bit — they like to let him groove out on this number, leading the charge at times.

Next up is a beautiful take on Latin Shuffle, including the usual mid-tune Drum Solo, and moving into a Bass Solo out of the song’s ending … the band has loved this tune, seemingly, since its debut in spring ’97, and by this point in ’98 they can really dig deep on this one.

illyB @North Sea Jazz Festival, Paulus Hall, Congresce, The Hague, Netherlands 1998-07-11

Billy takes a moment to welcome out THE FUNKY DRUMMER, Clyde Stubblefield! Clyde filled in for illyB earlier in the fall of ’98 on the Scofield A GO GO tour that also featured Medeski & Wood — Billy’s wife had just had a baby, so he couldn’t do the tour. Anyhoo, Clyde comes out to sit at the kit, Billy moves to some percussion (cowbell, talking drum), and the Stubblefield beat kicks in on what I’ve called a Toy Dancing Improv. Toy Dancing was new in ’98, and some renditions move closer to the song as we know it while a couple performances, like this one, kind of bend the Toy around a bit so the Dancing feels a little different. Nice breakdown c.5min with illyB & Clyde, then John, Chris, and Logic jump back in on the tune’s head and it fires to its finish — GROOVY SHIT, FOLKS! Billy celebrates Clyde one more time, and then the legend leaves the stage …

JLIPI is up next calming the vibe in the room a bit with its slinky bassline, but this will erupt soon enough in the mid-section of the tune when Chris lays it all out in his solo — GEESH! Also some stellar piano work from John here …

Hey-Hee-Hi-Ho gets the blood pumping again — Billy is so tight on this tune! And Logic again has room to maneuver, with he and illyB having some mid-track fun.

Medeski @North Sea Jazz Festival, Paulus Hall, Congresce, The Hague, Netherlands 1998-07-11

And then our MMW-related guitar hero of old (and forever!), Mr. Marc Ribot is invited out. Things start slow and meanderingly through some Open space before settling into the first known performance of music related to the tune Seven Deadlies, using its bassline while the rest of the guys on stage improvise around that. Later in Nov ’98 the band will use the bassline played during that Improv as a more firm beginning to, yet still incomplete, portion of the song we eventually come to know as Seven Deadlies, but during the late ’98-early ’99 period the performances are labelled as Seven Deadlies (Bridge) since it’s just that section of the tune they play during that time, before the more full version comes out in spring ’99 … mind you, the “structure” of the song is always shifting a bit, but by spring ’99 we’ve settled into more of what we know as Seven Deadlies.

C-Jam Blues sneaks out the end of the Seven Deadlies (Bridge) Improv, and we get to hear some sweet wacky blues playing from Ribot — sounds nice!

Wood + Martin @North Sea Jazz Festival, Paulus Hall, Congresce, The Hague, Netherlands
1998-07-11

Spy Kiss busts out the end of that C-Jam Blues, building tension more and more, grooving hard, before exploding into the insanity of the “song”, Combustication! What a finish to the show! Everyone is just giving all they’ve got to this WALL OF SOUND and it’s, well, INSANE!

The No Ke Ano Ahiahi encore is perfect … Ribot’s guitar is always soooooo sweet during this tune, a perfect contrast to the HIGH ENERGY that closed the set, and should nicely take you into this Friday Afternoon In The Universe

enjoy the grooves,
dug



FAITU#42

FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE
(FAITU#42)
1995-05-05

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  • MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD
    Download MMW gig Read MMW txt file White Rabbit, Austin, TX
    Friday, May 05, 1995
    1995-05-05.dsbd.126805.t-flac16
    Set 1: Chinoiserie, The Lover > Pakalolo, Last Chance to Dance Trance (Perhaps), Sequel, Lonely Avenue

    Set 2: Think, Beeah, Bass Solo > Worms* > Open Improv > Caravan > We’re So Happy, Chubb Sub, Crosstown Traffic

    Encore: Bemsha Swing / Lively Up Yourself

    * with Bemsha Swing beginning/teases

Wood + Martin @Liberty Lunch, Austin, TX 1996-04-13

– SET I (tracks 1-7) –
– SET II (tracks 8-17) –


– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#42)

“Don’t fuck with John Medeski.”
– Billy Martin

— this comment from illyB near the end of the first set is a good summation of the gig, but let’s extend it to the trio as a whole. Not gonna blab on about this gig in detail. This is *classic* ’95, but turned up to eleven — this could arguably be the hottest show we have of ’95, and that’s saying A LOT! My Shack buddy, Mike (aka shackaholic) had this to say upon originally seeding this show:

If you were to have just one MMW recording from 1995, this would be a great candidate. The first set is average to slightly above average (the Pakalolo is excellent however).

The second set is a highlight set, IMO. The Think, We’re So Happy and Chubb Sub are all amazing versions. The rest of the second set is great too and features a Worms with a funky beginning. It’s as if they were going to do a Bemsha Swing/Lively Up Yourself but instead about 40 seconds in or so, it morphs into Worms.

Great great show that I highly recommend downloading.

Mike (aka shackaholic)

I’m gonna counter Mike’s assessment of Set 1 with this: He was blinded by the FIRE that is Set 2! HA! But, IMHO, the 1st set of this gig is MORE than average. Again, everything about this show is indeed classic ’95, but with a twist, a heightened energy — an extra sweet Pakalolo; the “usual” killer Drum Solo inside LCTDT(P); an early Sequel, born from It’s A Jungle In Here’s demise; that Bemsha fake-out to start Worms?; the run of tunes following Worms. All of this is standard for 1995, sorta, but this gig just lifts it all that much more from the first moment … at least to my ears. Yeah, even the first set is tops! The move out of the end of ripping The Lover > Pakalolo is, well, check it out …

Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t note how intense and tight Beeah is in this gig — it’s a favourite of mine, and it was interesting to hear Chris say at a recent interview down in NOLA that this tune was written from a need: they had a first “official” gig and needed tunes! Glad they did! Beeah is sublime … and perfect for this Friday Afternoon In The Universe

enjoy the grooves,
dug