Medeski Martin & Wood: The Lover
Medeski Martin & Wood
Friday Afternoon in the Universe (Gramavision GCD 79503)
Composed by John Medeski, Billy Martin & Chris Wood.
Recorded: New York, July 1994
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
Friday Afternoon in the Universe features Medeski Martin & Wood 1.0. This early incarnation starred Wood on acoustic bass rather than electric. In some ways, at least on this cut, it gave MMW a more organic sound. It seemed this "back-to-basics" movement would be the direction many jam bands would take. But in the end, the electric bass probably allows for a greater freedom and is easier to carry around on the road. In either case, it is Wood's choice of acoustic or electric bass that determines much of the character of each MMW piece to this day. Besides, in the hands of Chris Wood, a standup bass is more than a standup bass. He has enough tricks up his sleeve to create unique sounds. Many of them involve foreign objects not even allowed in the WWWF.
The jam music heard on "The Lover" has an unrelenting groove. Medeski's organ has no brakes. Martin's piston-like drumming and Wood's vibrating bass aren't very easy to stop either. The band finds one ingratiating riff after another and drives each into the ground. These aren't guys who don't know their jazz history, either. In the middle of the trip, Medeski takes a left-hand turn to quote "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." My guess is that the vast majority of the band's mostly rock fans at the time had no clue what the band was doing. So what? Sometimes it's best to get caught up in the ride and just ignore the map.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky