Medeski Martin & Wood: Jelly Belly
Medeski Martin & Wood
Shack Man (Gramavision 79514)
Composed by John Medeski, Billy Martin, Chris Wood.
Recorded: Hawaii, June 1996
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Shack Man is the most consistent studio album in the MMW catalog, and its production captures the group's live sound better than any other. The album's standout track is "Jelly Belly," which covers a lot of ground in 4:42 but is well paced and tightly arranged. The extended intro is furtive and ominous with Medeski's sustained organ chords breathing a mysterious air over Wood's driving bass hook (one of his best). The simple playfulness of the melody and Martin's bouncy cowbell brighten the mood temporarily before the group dives back into a deep and heavy groove. After a punchy, distorted Wurlitzer solo, Medeski's Hammond swirls and weaves around his electric piano and makes the trio sound deceptively like a quartet. As they charge towards their finish line, the groove suddenly drops and Martin breaks into a wild drum solo, sliding around his kit like a drunken kung fu master.
Reviewer: Matt Leskovic
Tags: 1990s jazz