– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#7)
The Shack Project celebrates MMW @25 years!
This gig is MMW’s first trio show after their Hendrix tributes a couple of days earlier on 10/20-21 (see 2000-10-21 Stream) — and they are retaining both the vibe from the gigs and a few of the tunes, in addition to the Hendrix tunes they already had in their repertoire (Crosstown Traffic & Hey Joe).
– SET I –
The Improv to start the evening is broad in scope — it sounds like it’s trying to fill large space and after a couple of minutes an angular melody jumps in from Medeski, briefly, more sounds in and from space, more melody … settling a bit after this into more of a groove. illyB kicks in a solid beat and Chris grabs hold under Medeski’s atmosphere, and then the keys start to join the groove a bit more. John drops out for the last minute or so, and we get a Bass’n’Drums breakdown, that eventually breaks down to just the drum beat with Billy solo. Full stop.
John kicks in the gospel organ squonks, Chris and Billy sporadically join, until they all lock in to serve us a delicious Philly Cheese Blunt. This song is always playful, if not too short, and gives way to another and more developed Drum Solo, sticking on the kit, and then the driving beat kicks in, drops, kicks in, and WE ARE ROLLING! I have never had the pleasure of catching We Are Rolling live, but would love to as I just really dig that heavy vibe and the off kilter reggae jam it opens up to … this version is a complete performance where the reggae jam is contained and leads back to the tune’s head, unlike it’s often veering off into another tune or improvisation, but it’s cool to hear it close up nicely (and actually, it might not be until into 2001 or so before we start hearing We Are Rolling often performed unfinished).
We have a curious start down Ray Charles’ Lonely Avenue — in a good way! — that kinda colours the opening groove of the song. VERY cool mid-tune bass solo with some percussion accompaniment that also drops, and it’s just a nice quiet feel. That quiet vibe moves ever so smoothly into the opening notes of Nostalgia In Times Square, which quickly picks up the pace and we’re off dancing in the square — no sign of Angel Race (I’ll Wait For You), which is most often used with Nostalgia to create a medley. Whether or not the lack of medley is the reason, Nostalgia is cut a wee short as we drift into an illyB Drum Solo. The Solo begins with a steady beat that picks up tempo after not too long and gradually Billy starts colouring the beat with fills and we’re suddenly morphing into something other, and something other, and … slam! John drops the opening notes to Hermeto’s Daydream and we are in dreamland — this is a wild tune that’s never been played all that much, at least not in MMW’s recorded history, but when it is played it’s always a treat.
The set closes with our first Hendrix taste of the evening giving us Manic Depression, and it is scrumptuous. This is a tune I’d love to hear in rotation today, but it didn’t stick long beyond this fall 2000 tour (only one known 2001 performance, and that’s it, I think). It rivals 3rd Stone for my favourite Hendrix cover MMW have performed — I’d rather hear this than Crosstown Traffic any night! HA! Anyway, first trio-only version of Manic Depression is solidly transformed into an MMW tune. End set.
– SET II –
Again, fresh off the Hendrix tribute gig, Third Stone From the Sun quickly enters MMW’s repertoire and sticks hard for a while — and that’s good news for our ears! Beginning out of a noisy rumble that finally gushes forth that opening refrain, and we’re off into outer space. The band is clearly having a good time with this song. This gig on 10/23 is really the first time the guys let loose on the tune by themselves, and I think it kinda becomes the tune for Fall 2000 — I mean, they played it alot! HA! They played this tune at EVERY show we have copies of from this gig until the final gig of 2000 on 12/16! And it’s *real* fun to listen along as they get more and more comfortable with the tune … this performance opens into some cool open exploration mid-tune, coming back around to the melody, and then breaking down into a Drums’n’Bass jam that leads us into the dark territory of Shacklyn Knights. This is a murky groove that to me always sounds like I’m heading down an alley … Shacklyn is the name of the studio MMW have used in NYC, and they are its Knights.
Brigas Nunca Mais chimes in to relieve any tension and just help us feel good in its Latin beauty, and as its easy vibe breaks down we are met by a sister groove in Partido Alto, but the groove intensifies — that’s the deal with Partido Alto! Love how playful MMW are with this tune, and fall 2000 so LOTS of that. The beat leads us to another illyB solo, again carrying the beat out and then colouring it away from itself, which brings us some Mercy Mercy Mercy! John starts out an odd melody right off the bat, different than I’ve heard in the other few takes MMW have done of this Joe Zawinul tune, and it kind of bleeds into this take making it a little different than usual — we like that. Here’s a nice live version of the tune I found within it’s original context, performed by the Cannonball Adderly Quintet – Zawinul wrote the tune while a member of the group:
Big Time drops, and my head bops. Everytime.
The slinkyness of Jelly Belly slides in, and John is doing something in that first minute that almost makes me nauseated when I focus on it (NOT nauseous! His playing is nauseous making me nauseated). The opening is dark to my ears and I don’t know if it’s the recording affecting my listening, but the rest of this version carries that too. As the Jelly often does, we are taken into a Drum Solo, but it only lasts a couple of minutes before Chris joins back for some Drums’n’Bass improvisation — and this opens into some really interesting exploration that leads to the hauntingly beautiful Afrique. Afrique too has a dark edge, which the tune just exudes anyway, and when it wraps we get the opening soothing notes of Note Bleu. Nice to hear this breath of groove so deep in the 2nd set actually.
So, the mood is mellow and relaxed now and Chris starts in with a slow brooding Bass Solo, lasting a nice lengthy time, building, and picks up into the Chubb Sub groove just around 4min, with the other guys starting to join in and Billy playing along more than John who’s tinkering with space sounds which then prompts Chris to toy around the bass a bit — illyB holding the building groove — and things sound like they’re almost falling apart just over 6min when the groove stabilizes in a very relaxed way and we’re off and running with the Chubb, which gradually builds more into its usually full large feeling groove. And we’re out – boom.
A rocking Crosstown Traffic gives us another nod to Jimi, which we’ll hear throughout fall 2000 (more so than usual!), and that ends this killer gig.
What’s cool about this gig and the early November 2000 shows, for me, is it’s just the trio. No other guests, no guitar, etc. I love me some full on trio, and hearing them bust out the Hendrix is rockin’ to my ears.
enjoy the grooves,
MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD
Wait Chapel, Wake Forest, Winston-Salem, NC
Monday, October 23, 2000
Set 1: Improv > Improv > Philly Cheese Blunt > Drum Solo > We Are Rolling, Lonely Avenue > Nostalgia In Times Square > Drum Solo > Hermeto’s Daydream, Manic DepressionSet 2: Third Stone From The Sun > Drums’n’Bass outro > Shacklyn Knights, Brigas Nuncas Mais > Partido Alto > Drum Solo > Mercy Mercy Mercy, Big Time > Jelly Belly > Drum Solo > Drums’n’Bass > Afrique, Note Bleu, Bass Solo > Chubb Sub
Encore: Crosstown Traffic
– SET II (tracks 9-19) –