|Trouble playing tunes?|
- MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD
Georgia Theater, Athens, GA
Saturday, September 18, 1993
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
– 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.
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.
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:
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,