– SHACK THOUGHTS –
FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE (FAITU#18)
The Shack Project celebrates MMW @25 years!
After a few weeks absence, I’m back with *3 shows* to hopefully make up for my lack of FAITU picks the past 2 weeks. So this week I’m sharing FAITU #17, #18 & #19, which are a run of shows in the U.S. Northeast from the fall 2002 tour (there was a 4th gig on that run as well, but it’s never circulated). There’s some repetition in song selection, considerable variance too, and just full-out incredible improvisation on display. Fall ’02 saw the opening improvisations stretching out more than ever before becoming a common tactic for starting a gig throughout the rest of MMW’s career. The tunes, mostly from The Dropper and Uninvisible albums (plus some other favourites), that are repeated see some interesting treatment, placement, and song segues – each gig offers something unique in this way in addition to each beginning with some hefty spontaneous composing … now to the replay tape …
** Thursday, September 26, 2002 ** >>> 2002-09-26
** Friday, September 27, 2002 **
– SET I –
Not so noisy as the previous night’s opening, instead it’s more moody and murky – it’s like John’s just laying his arms on the keys at times, maybe. Clattering percussion from illyB, some bird calls, and Chris is doing some high-over-the-bridge bowing, moving back onto the neck. Thumps from Billy as this Open Improv keeps veering away from groove in favour of sound exploration. At some point in here you either start chuckling or gain a deep focus – or both. After the 4min mark the band starts to begin an inkling towards something more melodic …
When track #2 starts the band had already laid the ground work and they jump into a groove that just keeps pushing and developing. Man, these cats listen to each other so well. Subtle responses and twists. We’re into bluesy territory here, but post-5min that really becomes evident. @7:35 the groove breaks down to like an elemental level, still moving, tweaking – cool sounds from John in here as well as what Chris is pulling out. Billy moves over to some percussive toys. @8:19 Chris begins a weird strum and things begin to get a little stranger before heading out into even more open space – @10min things get real loose and over the next 6min or so the band follows each other away from any semblance of composition and melody. We’re once again in chuckle/focus space, and all you can do is enjoy the ride. Just as the track reaches the end there’s some great interplay developing between Chris and Billy, then Billy drops out and we get some alone time with Chris and his bass – music to my ears. The solo begins delicately out of the space he and Billy were just sharing. This turns into a nice solo, well built and a great journey that almost never gets into that wild space Chris reaches until one minor outburst just before 2min, which he reins in, then begins that nice walk down the line …
And we’re moving into Shacklyn Knights – ooh this is a weird and groovy tune. It’s got a haunting quality to it that doesn’t really reach a height, the developing groove sounding like it might fall apart, but then vrooosh, the tune is rollicking along in full force now beginning a run of tunes to keep you dancing till set break. The Knights leads to a Drum Solo > C-Jam Blues > Buster Rides Again – this run is hoppin’ quick with energy. Then a Big Time > Jelly Belly pairing closes the set in a fine PHAT groove celebration.
– SET II –
There’s that HEAVY bassline again: Uninvisible kicks off the set with a bang! The tune gives way to some Open Improv exploration that finds itself nicely flowing into Lifeblood – oh, it feels good when illyB starts that weird shuffle. In an interesting and unique move Lifeblood peels away into a Bowed Bass Improv Solo, accompanied for a while by some scattering sounds from John and Billy, until it’s just Chris who eventually drops the bow and begins hammering his way to another Ten Dollar High; $10 and solid grooving later we’re hitting a Pappy Check and it once again, just like in the previous night’s 1st set, leads into Partido Alto – but listen to each night’s take on this move. The percussive Partido opens into a Drum Solo, not too long before Billy drops the Fire beat and the other 2 jump in … fizzling down to Smoke for closing the set – I love the slink of Smoke’s feel.
In the encore slot Organ Intro > I Wanna Ride You takes us out again, only this time John moves to Melodica and we get an Acoustic Outro to the song – the guys basically play into the taper’s mics, so it sounds SUPER SWEET! As always, WE LOVE THE TAPERS and are so grateful they’re out there …
** Saturday, September 28, 2002 ** >>> 2002-09-28
These 3 gigs showcase nicely what the band can do with similar tunes, which they tend to focus on for a tour or stretch of time, and how playful and adventurous their approach can be. But we also see the advent of larger sections of Improvisation, a welcome development in their gigs … the band just gets tighter and more daring …
enjoy the grooves,
- MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD
Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA
Friday, September 27, 2002
Set 1: Open Improv > Improv > Open Improv > Bass Solo > Shacklyn Knights > Drum Solo > C-Jam Blues > Buster Rides Again, Big Time > Jelly BellySet 2: Uninvisible > Open Improv > Lifeblood > Bowed Bass Improv/Solo > Ten Dollar High > Pappy Check > Partido Alto > Drum Solo > Fire, Smoke
Encore: Organ Intro > I Wanna Ride You** w/ acoustic outro
– SET I (tracks 1-8) –
– SET II (tracks 9-16) –