FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE
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- MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD w/ DJ Logic and Brahim Fribgane
Tonic, New York, NY
Monday, March 07, 2005
Early Set: Improv > Open Improv > Improv > Improv > Open Improv > Improv > Improv > Bass’n’Drums > Improv > Improv > Improv > Open Improv > Hegaz*, CurtisLate Set: Improv > Improv > Open Improv > Improv > Open Improv > Hegaz, Bass Solo/Open Improv > Improv, Queen Bee
Encore: Swamp Roadwhole show w/ DJ Logic and Brahim Fribgane
* 1st known performance; Club d’Elf song (written by Brahim?)
This show was played as Early/Late sets, as opposed to a 2 set single show.
– SET I (tracks 1-10) –
– SET II (tracks 11-20) –
– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#38)
This show is SUPER cool! MMW@Tonic=GOOD VIBES!
Throw in Logic and Brahim, and the stakes raise a little higher with the quintet delivering incredible sets of exploration. This really is an AMAZING show. There’s groove in here, but there’s also a considerable amount of out-playing even in the tracks I’ve left noted as Improv, not Open Improv — it’s a spacey show at times. But, the band certainly grounds you in groove at other times, with each set landing in an End Of The World Party (Just In Case) tune.
– EARLY SHOW –
The set has a pretty dark overtone throughout, at least to my ears …
A smattering of sounds starts us off on the fileset’s track #2: John banging the piano keys and Chris plunking, as well as Brahim, I think, while illyB colours with some percussive shakes and tinkles (maybe that’s all bass though and Brahim is on percussion?), and Billy eventually moving to the kit initiating some more focused drive towards something more with John on organ now … but the group is staying pretty abstract until just after 3min as that boils down to a little light groove on this opening track with John back on piano (is that Logic colouring the background a bit?). Billy has a nice open beat working, and yeah, there’s Logic in there now for sure — I think that is just Chris on the bass, but the sound is weird to my ears … this all breaks down again into an Open Improv exploring the space in the room for a couple of minutes. Whereas the opening exploration seemed to lead to that melodic section of the track, this latter exploration at the track’s end seems like the musicians are searching …
The search is over when we roll to track #3 which develops very nicely from a sparse groove, where the sums of the parts strangely add up to the groove and by half way we’re in a full on composition with all those parts having jived and shaken to morph into a really solid musical conversation speaking right to me …
The Improv on track #4 breaks back down to a heavy percussive feel, John’s on piano hitting it with some force — tinkering a cool 3rd Stone tease c.1:40min into this groove. The interplay between illyB and Brahim with the beats is hoppin’! By the time we get to around 3:45min Billy moves to the kit and John starts playing a little more fluidly, less harshness, Logic is sratching — which is oddly fitting in well — and Chris has been holding it altogether, as he often does. Oh, this is a real nice tune/improvisation … John is taking us for quite a ride on the piano … eventually this simmers low with a sliding muddy line from Chris, more Logic scratches with some samples, and the illyB/Brahim shaking us down to quiet …
Some further space explorations start track #5, John staying on piano but fairly abstract and somebody is on the talking drum (illyB?) … John’s ivories get a little more fluttery, almost pretty, but then a harshness comes in from other angles a bit, bordering on breaking apart, or perhaps introducing a new groove development … this goes on for a few minutes, more shots of sounds that are perhaps not so welcoming mixed with other more soothing sounds … this all pulls together just after 5min into moving together more after the open playing … it’s a slow build, but very nice … cool keys from Mr. Medeski … Billy moves back to the kit c.11min and Chris is plunking out a groovy foundation, Brahim helping the beat and Logic is filling in some of the gaps — gotta give him credit for good listening, that’s for sure; I’m not a big DJ guy, but Logic is by far my favourite. Anyway, this all builds up into a super solid groove/composition with excellent interplay across the stage.
A Bass’n’Drums jam emerges on track #6 from the aftermath of the previous groove, and leads us once again into very cool build as a unit — everyone is really listening, and that’s something I really dig about MMW and who they generally pick to sit-in.
Then a gospel groove begins track #7, and in retrospect it has the same feel as the cover of Suspicious Minds the band busted out in 2012. Anyway, this is a welcome sunshine feel to an otherwise very-night-time-feeling set of music … again Logic is sneaking into some cool spaces and Medeski is moving from organ to piano, Chris is just boppin’ us along with Billy/Brahim — these two are working like one guy with four hands, which reminds me of how Billy and Cyro Baptista groove together. VERY nice! (Brahim has sat in w/MMW a few times over the years, to great effect.) When this groove closes with a bang …
We start to hear some more open space exploration at the start of track #8, led mainly by the percussion sounds … Medeski comes in with sssssome lasers from outer space … and we are heading into a FREAKIN’ KILLER TUNE! It’s like the vibe of the entire set has built to this moment (hindsight = 20/20). Just after 3min you hear the melody tinkering on the oud — oh, man, this is such a great tune! Just listen … the oud has such a cool sound! The tune, Hegaz, I think was written by Brahim and is also played in Club d’Elf, a band Brahim also plays in sometimes.
(Those of you who’ve been around a while might recall I was calling this song Ziphim back when these shows were happening because it really reminded me of a slightly altered version of that Zorn tune. Then I just changed it to “Brahim Boogie” after I was convinced it wasn’t Ziphim because I didn’t know the tune.)
Billy chats with the crowd a bit, trying to remember a song title, and then we get a set-closing Curtis which starts off in an unsuspecting manner for a tune that will blow up into a HEAVY GROOVE!
– LATE SET –
Short intro from Billy as he waits for their guests to return to the stage, and then the sounds of outer space once again fill the air …
An oddly built groove establishes itself on track #1 — like, a random listener would not call this a “groove”, but it is! John moves from piano to clavinet, intermixing, while Billy/Brahim keep the percussive beats busy and Logic adds some bleeps and bloops … where’s Chris? Hard to hear him in this section, but close to 5min in you can hear his low end filling in the groove, Billy’s going crazy and so is John. The chaos subsides as we roll over …
To track #2 with some gentle methodic piano accompanied by some bowed bass and percussive tinkerings, along with Logic zaps. This turns into something hauntingly beautiful as John leads the melodic exploration here.
Track #3 finds the ensemble falling off into open space … these 5 guys are really digging the open vibes this night! This playfulness reaches some frantically anxious energy by the end of the track …
So track #4’s improvisation has grown out of that previous open exploration, and it is sparse with Chris leading the melody using wacky electric plunking while John interjects with piano, and the percussion brothers keep it all moving. Chris starts digging into his groove a bit more after 2min in but this subsides a bit and the sparse groove continues until Billy moves to the kit and picks up the tempo — everyone else responds. Close to 8min into this track the music splits apart again into more open exploration … yep, they are loving that … and you will love where this once again leads …
HEGAZ! Track #5 finds the musicians resurrecting Hegaz from the earlier set – SWEET! MMW will go onto play this song numerous times throughout the spring tour, but these performances with Brahim on oud are MUST HEAR! It’s Brahim’s tune, we think, and he leads the ensemble brilliantly through it … love this TUNE! Never disappoints … and the version with MMW’s bus driver, Dominic Placo, on trumpet from April ’05 is outstanding!
Next up we get a Bass Solo intermingled with some open improvisation that lands us in a nice bluesy number — in a similar vein, the EARLY SET offered a nice gospel groove near the end as a ray of sunshine in an otherwise darkly-vibed set of music, and so the LATE SET likewise offers a sunny vibe at this point.
illyB then introduces the band, and we’ve got time for “one more” … unfortunately, only one more tune, not set.
Queen Bee closes out the gig in fine form — the guys really dug this tune at the time, with lots of stellar performances and variations on it from late ’03-’05 … this one is exceptionally no exception …
A quick break, and the guys come out to lead us down Swamp Road for the encore … and if you haven’t listened to the duet take on that tune which Medeski and Logic recorded years ago, check it out too:
And of course, after hearing this gig I’ve always wanted to hear the next night, 3/8/2005, but alas, it’s never circulated … at least, not that I’ve seen …
Tonic seemed to allow the band to feel some good vibes with nothing but stellar gigs from that space. Never had the opportunity to attend, myself, but all the gigs for which we have recordings are many of my favourite MMW shows, and many involve HUGE DOSES OF IMPROVISATION — like this week’s pick — so soak up this Friday Afternoon In The Universe …
enjoy the grooves,
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE
– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#26)
The Shack Project celebrates MMW @25 years!
The Montréal theme picks back up after another absent week last Friday – sorry, folks, it’s summer and last minute plans to hit the sunshine/woods/beach can get in the way of sharing tunes … but I’m not going anywhere, so more tunes will always be coming, if a bit delayed, and of course The Shack Project is open 24/7/365 for streaming/downloading HUNDREDS of shows. But back to the gig at hand (or at ear?) …
– SET I –
Big Time > I Wanna Ride You kicks of the 1st set in fine energetic fashion, and then Brahim Fribgane joins the trio for Lifeblood and the sounds get a little more expansive and percussive over the rest of the set, and show when Trilok Gurtu joins in as well. Brahim adds a nice layer in Lifeblood that carries over into the plodding opening to Think – illyB and Brahim, along with John’s squonks, lay the bed that Wood bows over and moves to plucking, building up the tension as we wait for the Think melody to really kick in from John just before the 2min mark. There is some stellar piano work from John in the middle of this tune – like, wow! – before the tune opens into a Drums/Percussion session for a couple of minutes that eventually leads us to Fire! Hendrix-style, through an MMW lense … and where there’s Fire, there’s Smoke (sometimes the reverse) – a subtly groovy end to this pumping set. Clocking in at just under an hour, that is still some dense musicality to wade through – it’s about quality, not quantity. The set has a perfect overall feel and arc to it … the 2nd set gives us a little more quantity with our quality though …
– SET II –
After roughly a minute of sounds gurgling and building, the HEAVY Uninvisible bassline begins, everyone jumps in and this set is off to a HIGH energy start – there’s quite a sound palette on stage with the trio now that Charlie Hunter (8-string guitar) and Trilok Gurtu (tablas & percussion) have joined the mix in addition to Brahim. So when the Open Improv busts out the end of the track, it actually develops into this percussive heavy groove by the end of it before veering into a very smooth Improv on the next track, again with a heavy percussive feel. Oh yeah, this sounds real nice and eventually the melodic instruments drop out and we are in a full on drums jam – sweet! These guys are having fun together, lots of different toys in the mix, Billy (presumably) moves to the kit after a while as the other two(?) carry on with some more hand-based percussion. The Percussion Improv takes us into a jiggly Jelly Belly, and again so cool to hear the sounds the guests bring to this familiar tune, which opens into its common Drum Solo outro, but Billy is once again accompanied by our percussive guests who colour the classic Nostalgia In Times Square as well when the others join back in after the drum break. Interestingly, Nostalgia isn’t its usually medleyed-self since Sun Ra’s Angel Race (I’ll Wait For You) is absent from the performance, so instead we get a full fleshed-out take on this old tune with the life of these new young sounds.
Next up is Start/Stop, which is a groove I can’t get enough of. Love the way the tune pushes itself out into space, further and further with each “stop” break, again HEAVILY coloured by percussion, so these moments of open space have a little extra umph to them (and is Charlie absent here? Not sure I hear him? Sometimes he’s getting lost in the mix though, so …). Just when you’re not sure if the open space is just pushing out further only to “start” again into the main melody, or whether the band is just pushing out into open space more, suddenly a beat starts @11:20 of the track and we are instantly Toy Dancing – nice! Love when Billy starts that beat on his hand drum. So this has a nice slow burn for a start as the percussive groove builds up more and more, creating a bit of tension to finally be released when the tune kicks in a bit more, Billy moves to the kit and the groove settles out – not sure if that’s Trilok on vocals? I think so … only show we have with the guy, and I don’t recall Brahim ever vocalizing in the past. Charlie steps up nicely in Toy Dancing for an extended solo, before the track eventually simmers down to more percussion interaction and then eventual silence, followed by some line-up announcements by Billy.
A high energy combo of Pappy Check > The Lover, so new > old, closes the set. Oddly, it sounds to my ears like both Brahim and Trilok have left the stage when Pappy Check begins, leaving only Charlie to guest on this tune, but then it seems like those guys return to close out the set on The Lover.
And then as the encore, for the first time in 2002, Bubblehouse is played much to the crowd’s delight! (I sometimes wonder if folks calling for “Bubblehouse” at every show even know *what* song they’re requesting, but I digress.) Billy announces they’re going to play this song for the LAST TIME ever simply because of the very special guests – last time Charlie played with them in ’96 Bubblehouse was one of the tunes – but that they don’t play this song anymore, and this is basically it. (They do play the song again, but not until 2003 which only has like 2 performances, 2004 has 4 takes on the track, and it starts coming back a bit more after than until we get to the Radiolarians years, after which Bubblehouse makes a triumphant return being the *only* song requested for *every* show on the band’s 2011 tour where they solicited audience requests for their first sets along the tour, and improvised the 2nd sets.) And the version’s intense Bubbles bring the House down!
So anyway, this is a very HEADY version of Bubblehouse so soak it up and check out this whole show top-to-bottom as you enjoy your Friday Afternoon In The Universe …
enjoy the grooves,
- MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD
w/ Brahim Fribgane, Trilok Gurtu & Charlie Hunter
Festival Int’l de Jazz de Montréal,
Métropolis, Montréal, QC
Thursday, July 04, 2002
Set 1: Big Time > I Wanna Ride You, Lifeblood# > Think# > Drums/Percussion# > Fire# > Smoke#Set 2: Uninvisible#* > Open Improv#* > Improv#* > Percussion Improv#* > Jelly Belly#* > Drums/Percussion#*, Nostalgia In Times Square#* > Start/Stop#* > Toy Dancing#*, Pappy Check > The Lover#*
Encore: Bubblehouse#*# with Brahim Fribgane – dumbek & percussion (Billy names another instrument but not sure what he says – “cascadas”?)
* with Trilok Gurtu – tablas & percussion
with Charlie Hunter for the entire second set
– SET I (tracks 1-6) –
– SET II (tracks 7-16) –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#9)
– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#9)
The Shack Project celebrates MMW @25 years!
Scrambled at the last minute for this week’s FAITU pick — had a different idea that didn’t work out this week (stay tuned for next week!), but then stumbled back upon this gem from spring ’02, a tour known for its inclusion of the Uninvisible Horns led by Steven Bernstein (plays in Billy’s new-ish band Wicked Knee). However, this gig precedes the point where the horns join the tour (and the players differed a bit over the tour, with Bernstein being the only constant), but we’ve still got a couple of guests adding nice flavour to the gig. Brahim always fits nicely with the guys … I have a very neutral attitude towards DJs in general … none of them make me overly excited, and others work better than some … P Love fits fine for my tastes and there’s some fun interplay in the 2nd set with him, Brahim and illyB …
– SET I –
Show begins exploring the space with a nice beat from Billy and Brahim, P Love sprinkling sounds, and John and Chris making noise, albeit searching noise that settles in eventually with the 5 performers all locking into this spontaneous composition. A fine start to any evening, which moves ever so smoothly into the opening notes of Henduck. Henduck has cool percussion/DJ breakdown in the middle, with Billy kicking in on the kit at one point and we’re led back to the closing refrains of Henduck … and that pairs so well with the Lifeblood that follows — this opening Improv > Henduck > Lifeblood is exactly what you’re looking for. Check it.
The set closes in a less brooding atmosphere with the combo of Pappy Check > Partido Alto — again, so nice playful sounds from Brahim during the transition between tunes, and he fits perfectly on Partido! End set.
– SET II –
The set begins with the swirling gospel organ intro to I Wanna Ride You, and then the trip begins. Nice tight concise version of the tune gets us dancing, followed by the HEAVY groove of Uninvisible — oh, I dig that bass! — which is the beginning of a nice run taking us into another HEAVY groove in Big Time, and wrapping with the wackyness of Seven Deadlies which grows out of the usual open ending from Big Time, and that open ending has some fun sounds from Brahim.
After a brief pause we’re suddenly on Fire, MMW/Hendrix style! And where there’s fire there’s Smoke — seriously, at this time these tunes are virtually inseparable, switching their order on any given performance, but together like 99% of the time. I always liked that though, how we couldn’t have Smoke without Fire, or vice versa depending on the show.
Out of the Smoke a super slinky Improv emerges, maintaining that Smoke-y vibe but a substance all its own which helps open up a VERY playful mood for the remainder of the set.
The run Ten Dollar High > Percussion Improv > Percussion/DJ/Bass > Bass Solo > Shacklyn Knights > Percussion’n’DJ > Moti Mo is, once again, exactly what you’re looking for — you better download or listen to this gig! Seriously, this closing of the show involves so many wonderful moments between all 5, or just a couple players at a time, to just some solo moments. Moti Mo is the perfect closer, bringing us back to the methodic grooves that opened the show.
Then some Wiggly’s Way leaves a smile on your face … at least it does on mine.
enjoy the grooves,
- MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD (w/ DJ P Love and Brahim Fribgane)
The Web Theater, Phoenix, AZ
Monday, April 15, 2002
Set 1: Improv > Henduck > Lifeblood, Pappy Check > Partido AltoSet 2: I Wanna Ride You, Uninvisible > Big Time > Seven Deadlies, Fire > Smoke > Improv > Ten Dollar High > Percussion Improv > Percussion/DJ/Bass > Bass Solo > Shacklyn Knights > Percussion’n’DJ > Moti Mo
Encore: Wiggly’s Wayw/ DJ P Love on turntables & Brahim Fribgane of Club d’Elf on percussion and oud
– SET I (tracks 1-5) –
– SET II (tracks 6-16) –
– w/ Scofield, DJ Logic, Brahim Fribgane & John Dirac!!! –
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