|Trouble playing tunes?|
- MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD (w/ DJ Logic + Oren Bloedow)
The Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
Saturday, January 16, 1999
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)
– SET I (tracks 1-7) –
– SET II (tracks 8-17) –
– 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 …
** 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!
– 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.
– 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 …
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,