Medeski Martin & Wood + Nels Cline announce the release of The Woodstock Sessions on April 14th. The four musicians came together to record on August 27, 2013 at Applehead Studios in Woodstock, NY in front of an intimate gathering of 75 lucky ticket holders. The session was part of a newly launched series that brings established and emerging recording artists together with their fans in the recording studio. The experience is a performance/session hybrid that supports the artist to fan bond by sharing the process of record making. The end results of the sessions are inimitable recordings that capture inspired, one-off performances.
Medeski, Martin & Wood had already created a series of fine albums and a fervent following before they were signed to Blue Note, one of the most prestigious labels in jazz history. But rather than taking it easy after having made it in the jazz world, MM&W actually pushed the envelope even further during the Blue Note years, continually challenging their listeners as well as themselves. Note Bleu: The Best of the Blue Note Years: 1998-2005 compiles tracks from all five Blue Note albums, and does an excellent job of summarizing their label tenure.
Combustication is the fifth major album by experimental jazz fusion trio Medeski Martin & Wood, released on August 11, 1998. Combustication was MMW's first album for the renowned jazz label Blue Note Records, and also marked a stylistic shift for the band, with a deeper groove and the notable infusion of rhythmic influences from Hip hop and a variety of other styles. The album is also the first to include an accompanying turntablist, in this case longtime MMW collaborator DJ Logic.
A cerebral soul-jazz trio gives up some art and some funk with guest horn players and guitarist Marc Ribot. They call it "Shuck It Up," and rightly so, since they're neither as dissonant nor as ironic as many of their peers playing around downtown New York City. But that doesn't explain why these three don't swing as hard playing Monk, Coltrane, and King Sunny Ade as they do laying down their own earnest grooves and dismantling Bob Marley for mixing up with the Monk. Whether it's insecurity, indifference, or the physical chops they haven't developed to match their minds is for demanding listeners to decide. Or else it's all the same dilemma and will go away with time, just like the band's slow tunes.
Medeski, Martin & Wood's Shack Man is the best example to date of the trio's cerebral fusion of soul-jazz, hip-hop, and post-punk worldbeat. Relying on a laid-back groove for most the album, the group just rolls along. Shack Man is the kind of album that will appeal most to soul-jazz beginners; for aficionados, the lack of grit in the groove makes it rather tedious.