Medeski Martin & Wood might be the most prominent jazz trio in the jam scene, so when they link up with John Scofield for an album and tour, you know things are going to get weird.
Juice, the quartet’s recent album, is a highly acclaimed work of free-jazz funk and more. While ‘jazz’ in 2014 is usually meant for reserved seats and reserved individuals, MSMW have ties to festivals like Bear Creek and even Bonnaroo to thank for their crowd’s rowdiness. When you walked in to Terminal 5 last night, you didn’t see artsy white-heads sipping martinis; it was a party!
The setlist was definitely a celebration of Juice. The band’s selections derived almost exclusively from the 10 song LP that hit #1 on the jazz charts earlier this year, even starting with the first song and encoring with the last. As predictable as that may sound, it was surely a thrilling experience nonetheless.
Each song would showcase an individuals skill-set while the others patiently waited there turn. Keys player John Medeski had his way with “Louis The Shoplifter” while Scofield particularly enjoyed some improv on their rendition of “Light My Fire.”
The 10+ minute, dub-reggae version of “Sunshine of Your Love” isn’t tremendously similar to the Cream version we all know, but provided as a worthy component to the set: sort of an intermission of sorts. It also worked to demonstrate the players’ versatility, something that needs little help in proving if you’ve followed the band’s ventures in to projects ranging from the Wood Brothers to DRKWAV to Phil & Friends and beyond.
The encore, “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” featured an incredible, extended, stand-up bass solo from Chris Wood. His work on the stand-up was limited, but special each time. The band waved goodbye, leaving everyone in the building yearning for more world-class music.