Medeski Martin & Wood: Strance of the Spirit Red Gator
Strance of the Spirit Red Gator
Medeski Martin & Wood
Shack Man (Gramavision GCD 79514)
Composed by Medeski Martin & Wood.
Recorded: Hawaii, June 1996
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
There is a constant buzzing through most of "Strance of the Spirit Red Gator." It immediately evokes the unintentional buzzes and crackles heard in the poorly recorded Tony Williams Lifetime album Emergency from almost 30 years earlier. The fact that this time the buzz is on purpose is absolutely great. In fact, this strangely named piece reminds me of Williams's band in other ways. Bassist Chris Wood's electric playing does sound like guitarist John McLaughlin's low distorted notes from time to time. Medeski also over- modulates his keyboards à la Larry Young. Drummer Billy Martin isn't Tony Williams, but he is still a propulsive force to be reckoned with. There appears to be a great deal of overdubbing on this cut. But today's musicians can be so gifted and today's instrumentation and recording technology so advanced that you can never quite be sure. Due to the distortion heard in "Strance," I leave open the possibility that Chris Wood's "electric bass playing" referred to above could be Medeski on keyboards. Sometimes you don't know. I just write it as I hear it.
The original Tony Williams Lifetime would probably never play a song this slow. But the spirit of that band is heard here whether intentionally or not. It seems each time I listen to Medeski Martin & Wood, I become more impressed with the breadth of its players' influences and skills.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky