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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#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



FAITU#40

FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE
(FAITU#40)
2001-08-25

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  • MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD w/ Marc Ribot & Marshall Allen
    Download MMW gig Read MMW txt file Saalfelden Jazz Fest, Saalfelden, Austria
    Saturday, August 25, 2001
    2001-08-25.sbd.12422.t-flac16
    One Set: Open Improv#* > The Dropper#*, Partido Alto#, Bass Solo > Shacklyn Knights > Drum Solo, Big Time > Felic#* > We Are Rolling#* > Note Bleu#* > Open Intro#* > Angel Race (I’ll Wait For You)#*

    Encore: Bubblehouse#*

    One Set Only

    # w/ Marc Ribot – guitar
    * w/ Marshall Allen – horns

Marshall Allen c.2001

– ONE SET (tracks 1-10) –


– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#40)

It’s like the band decided to peripherally perform the album, THE DROPPER, in this live setting since Marc Ribot and Marshall Allen were both there. This set is EXACTLY why I listen to MMW. Not the only reason, but one of many that are all EXACTLY why I listen to MMW … while spontaneous composition/improvisation isn’t heard much in this gig, what these musicians do with the songs played is absolutely stunning … let’s dig in!

MMW w/ Marc Ribot @Umbria Jazz Festival,
Teatro Mancinelli, Orvieto, Italy 2001-12-31

– ONE SET –

The set begins with an Open Improv, exploring the space — I think just the trio until about 2min in and then you can hear Ribot’s guitar howl out, and we’re getting some squawks and squeals from Marshall Allen as well … it’s all very abstract, but also sort of a loose introduction to The Dropper (the song) — we get John’s key sound signifying the tune @3:22 on the first track, but then it all sort of falls apart a bit — it seems — simply as a way to restart into The Dropper and get it rolling. So when the track rolls over, this time John’s keys hold the line, Billy kicks in the beat and we are grooving along by the time Chris brings in the base to punctuate things, and essentially hold the melody and foundation of the tune for us. Oh yeah, and then Marc starts letting out some rhythmic spatters and joins the fray nicely. @2:45 Allen asserts himself in the mix — it’s hard to tell if some of the sounds preceding this were coming from him or the keys, but at this point he’s getting horny and we can dig it — listen to Ribot strumming off those spaces in the back of the sound! Things just get MORE CRAZY from here, so just after 7min when John is bringing back the head of the tune (if you can call it that), he’s really wrestling for space in the cacophony of Ribot and Allen — WHOAH! Tune boils down to nothing …

And the Partido Alto groove emerges, feeling so good and about to get super rockin’ as a result of one of the guests — but I ain’t complaining! Ribot comes in with a nice sweet rhythmic pattern again, interjecting some solo lines … the beat picks up as illyB moves to the kit from the percussion, and we are cooking now — and Ribot basically takes over driving this one, I think. He ROCKS this tune HARD … until it simmers down through a drum interlude of sorts, sweetened by John’s piano tinkering in the final moments of the track …

Marc Ribot c.2001

Chris gets us going with a Bass Solo next — fast fingers here! Beats his wood for a while here with high energy until he hits those sweet descending notes leading into Shacklyn Knights, and the Knights step right into the groove and we are moving with the trio only at this point — love the groove/feel of this tune! A Drum Solo comes out of Shacklyn, leading us to Big Time, again with just the trio — heavy vibe on this tune, always fun. In the final noise moments of the tune, just as it’s becoming Felic, Allen and Ribot can be heard again in the mix helping along with the open wacky sounds.

Felic is SOOOOOOOOO f#$kin awesome! And with Ribot and Allen throwing down in the mix, this is some HEAVY shit! Lovin’ it! Chris keeps pulsing that bass line, keeping it together. This tune erupts even more over time, pushing and pushing until we are

ROLLING! We Are Rolling kicks in, and just when it seemed like Felic was the “heavy” tune, our heads are pushed that much further to the brink — the 5 voices on stage are all clamouring for space in the sound and it is INTENSE! Until we hit that space break with a reggae tinge … but it’s all about to explode again! And AGAIN!

Note Bleu is the soothing sound to follow the previous chaos, but keeps an edge due to Marshall’s sound — such bite to his playing!

MMW @The O’Shaughnessy, St. Paul, MN 2001-10-18

A short Open Intro and we are vibing to Sun Ra’s Angel Race (I’ll Wait For You), a tune MMW had been playing for a couple years at this point. Having become part of a medly with Nostalgia In Times Square in the spring 2000 acoustic tour and throughout the remainder of that year, here we get a full treatment of the tune with one of Sun Ra’s band members and Marc Ribot — yeah, this is pretty damn sweet! (I’d heard the trio play Angel Race in ’99, just after it entered the live repertoire, and it was wild with just the three of them — these 5 on stage are wild!) There is what seems like digi-noise c.4min and at times after that, but I think it’s what Allen is doing on his horn! How he’s playing it is eliciting that sound, and then you hear him come in more melodically, but those staccato breaths are breaking the peak!</p

Bubblehouse — does Chris tease the melody from Zappa’s Peaches En Regalia c.6:48?!?! NO! It’s Jelly Belly – RIGHT? Or is it? You decide! Bubblehouse is always grooving and welcome by the crowd, but Ribot and Allen raise the stakes a bit more — you’ll like it, trust me.

You can tell MMW love playing with Ribot, it just shows, and then the addition of Allen finds everyone playing at their tops! Not that the trio ever sounds like they’re slacking on other nights, but this gig just has a VERY special vibe … perfect for a wacky Friday Afternoon In The Universe

enjoy the grooves,
dug