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Medeski, Martin & Wood renew bond with fusion star Scofield

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Monday December 08, 2014

From The Boston Globe

Medeski, Martin & Wood renew bond with fusion star Scofield
By Jeremy D. Goodwin

Medeski, Martin & Wood is a boundary-charging trio that seems as comfortable when it’s probing into the more abstract realms of jazz at the Blue Note club in New York as it is when churning out rump-shaking grooves at a summertime jam-band festival.

The trio is also an unusually flexible rhythm section. This year alone, it released album-length collaborations with two different guitarists: rock experimentalist Nels Cline (whose main gig is with Wilco) and fusion icon John Scofield.

The former is a challenging, sometimes abrasive exercise in free improvisation. The latter is a bubbly and swinging tour of African-derived grooves that pretty much compels an enthusiastic listener to dance along.

And, perhaps paradoxically, it’s the jazz legend who inspires keyboardist John Medeski, bassist Chris Wood, and drummer Billy Martin to rein it in a bit and focus on more straightforward song structures.

“You can hear MMW in there, but you can also hear how Scofield sort of influenced the material,” Martin says of the collaboration, speaking by phone. “I would say in general it’s easy, it’s fun, it’s more tune-oriented. It has almost an easy-listening thing that I would say is kind of fun to get into.”

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