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Medeski  Martin & Wood - Last Chance to Dance Trance (perhaps) CD (album) cover


Medeski Martin & Wood


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.95 | 2 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Since their first recorded efforts in the early 1990s the Brooklyn combo of Medeski Martin and Wood have created a diverse body of music drawn around an unlikely blend of be-bop rock, trip-hop jazz, and (as the title to this collection implies) groovy beatnik party tunes. On paper the combination looks more than a little contrived, but don't worry: it all fits easily together into one incredibly cool sound.

This 1999 compilation sums up the band's first half-decade together, before they signed to the Blue Note label and plunged headlong into even more challenging, uncharted territory (see: 'Combustication', and later albums). The tracks here, a baker's dozen in total (including one live performance and several new mixes of older material), are arranged in random chronological order, the better to represent the uniformity of vision in the group's wide spectrum of style.

Thus the irresistible groove of the album opener 'Chubb Subb' leads to the escalating bohemian funk of 'Bubblehouse', and the edgy acoustic improvisation of 'Hermeto's Daydream' (the oldest and jazziest selection here) precedes the (affectionate) mock spiritual vibe of 'Is There Anybody Here That Love My Jesus'. And let's not overlook the nifty Latin swing of the awkwardly named title track, yet another album highlight.

The secret to the band's success over the last two decades is more than simply cosmetic: this is a well-balanced trio of dedicated artists. John Medeski's Hammond organ gives the music its grindhouse gospel flavor; Chris Wood's acoustic upright bass supplies the sterling jazz credentials; and Billy Martin's fluid drumwork is the furnace bringing the strange brew to a rhythmic boil.

MMW would later evolve into something even more eclectic and sophisticated. But the roots of their unique style were already strong in these early recordings. This set not only collects a generous sampling from those embryonic years, it also makes a good introduction for newcomers to one of the more exciting groups now pushing out the boundaries of popular music.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |


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