Medeski Martin & Wood: Uninvisible (2002)
Medeski Martin & Wood has in effect cut out the middleman on their latest, Uninvisible. The middle being the re-mix project relative to this recording. The trio along with Wu-Tang Clan producer Scotty Hard invited an army of musicians and DJs to participate in this recording, layering, mixing, channeling, and re-mixing as they assembled it piece-by-piece. The result is a hypnotic concoction of hip-hop, jazz, funk, and eerie lounge music.
Producer Hard was aboard for MMW’s previous effort The Dropper, a more abstract effort than this beats-laden and very accessible outing. Here our heroes composed tracks on the fly, in between tours and side projects, then invited DJs Olive, P Love, and Hard to add and agitate their sound. The record opens with the horn section from Brooklyn’s Afrobeat band Antibalas blasting a Tower of Power-full notes that are echoed back in a dub-like fashion. In fact, noting is played straight here, from the weird poetry spoken by Colonel Bruce Hampton to the wordless vocal of Crash Test Dummies singer Brad Roberts.
MM&W came of age as a working band simultaneously with their signing at Blue Note records. Known for their spectacular live performances, they are equally at ease covering Thelonious Monk as they are playing free jazz. Although the band courts the club scene on Uninvisible, they appeases jazz fans with authentic sound. In that, I mean these cats can play and their sound is on top of the mix throughout. Bassist Chris Wood switches between electric and acoustic bass, cranking sub-woofer thumping sound and huge woody notes. While Wood keeps time, drummer Billy Martin maintains the funk.
Fear of this beat-heavy music getting monotonous is relieved by the varied guest appearances. Conga and percussionist Eddie Bobe captures simple (and very acoustic) accents and the DJs integrate well into MMW’s sound. John Medeski plays twelve different keyboard setups, from the Hammond and Wurlitzer organs to a mall bought electric keyboard and a Melodica. The sounds are off-the-wall and quirky enough to demand multiple spins of this disc.
Track Listing: Uninvisible; I Wanna Ride You; Your Name Is Snake Anthony; Pappy Check; Take Me Nowhere; Retirement Song; Ten Dollar High; Where Have You Been?; Reprise; Nocturnal Transmission; Smoke; First Time Long Time; The Edge Of Night; Off The Table.
Personnel: John Medeski