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Medeski, Martin & Wood - Tonic

Catalog ID# 5252712

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Medeski, Martin & Wood - Tonic

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On Tonic, recorded at the lower Manhattan club of the same name, Medeski Martin & Wood leave the electronics at home, along with most of the acid-jazz rhythms and trance-music structures that have made them so successful. Like other jazzmen who've hit it big by playing music significantly removed from their roots, MMW want to remind us that they can still handle the lingua franca - the post-bop mainstream - as well as they used to. On the opening "Invocation," they do more than that, shuttling back and forth on the freedom train before the piece melts into Lee Morgan's "Afrique." Soon Coltrane's wistful "Your Lady" sets the stage for the trio's own "Rise Up," a post-modern boogie-woogie distinguished by Chris Woods' bravura bass.

Since they're using the traditional piano-trio format, you might expect pianist John Medeski to take an even more prominent role than usual, but MMW remains an equal-opportunity outfit. In fact, I'd venture that less than half of Medeski's work on this album consists of the spotlit, single-note soloing found in most piano trios. (Of the three, it's the drummer, Billy Martin, who actually commands the most attention.) It all results in a quite competent performance, more impressive for its arrangements and mood swings than for the notes themselves - a 21st-century update on the Ramsey Lewis Trio of the 1950s. Hard-core MMW fans can take solace in the fact that their follow-up disc, The Dropper (due late October), returns to electronics and acid. Others will likely wonder (despite MMW's appropriation of source music from Bud Powell to Cecil Taylor) what the fuss is all about.

--- Neil Tesser, JAZZIZ Magazine Copyright © 2000, Milor Entertainment, Inc.

Track Listing:

1. Invocation (Live) 5:15

2. Afrique (Live) 8:24 $1.94

3. Seven Deadlies (Live) 10:56 $1.94

4. Your Lady (Live) 9:12 $1.94

5. Rise Up (Live) 11:14 $1.94

6. Buster Rides Again (Live) 7:36 $1.94

7. Thaw (Live) 11:32 $1.94

8. Hey Joe (Live)

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