All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

16

Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood: Juice

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
For over two decades, keyboardist John Medeski, percussionist Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood's abiding fascination with the endless possibilities of groove-based music has taken them from intimate jazz clubs to outdoor festival stages. Their eclectic efforts have included a number of high-profile collaborations; the most prolific and successful has been with esteemed guitarist John Scofield. Following the concert performances issued as In Case the World Changes Its Mind (Indirecto, 2011), Juice is their fourth album together since 1998's pace setting A Go Go (Verve).

Where their previous studio recording, Out Louder (Indirecto, 2006), emphasized collaboratively written pieces, this session focuses on individually penned numbers and a handful of choice covers, unified by a concentration on infectious Latin rhythms culled from the African diaspora. This song-oriented approach differs dramatically from the spontaneously conceived free-form structures of Woodstock Sessions, Vol. 2 (Woodstock Sessions, 2014), the trio's dynamic live-in-the-studio experiment with another equally revered guitarist, Nels Cline.

Juice opens with a buoyant rendition of Eddie Harris' soul jazz classic "Sham Time," establishing the date's celebratory mood and sense of camaraderie from the start, fortified by Scofield's bluesy lyricism, the shimmering warmth of Medeski's vintage analog keyboards, Wood's supple contributions and Martin's shuffling backbeats. Reinforcing the set's festive atmosphere, "Juicy Lucy" even borrows the iconic riff from "Louie Louie," transposing the indelible theme into a slinky Afro-Cuban vamp bathed in a scrim of dancehall reverb.

In addition to a half-dozen original compositions, ranging from the swinging "North London" to the introspective ballad "I Know You," the record includes three covers of legendary classic rock tunes. Although using post-war era pop songs as source material for jazz improvisation is hardly a novel concept, how creatively such warhorses are reinterpreted often determines their level of artistic merit.

Recast as nostalgic Americana, Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" is given a mellow, gospel-inflected reading that sounds downright Frisellian. Their rhapsodic interpretation of The Doors' "Light My Fire" on the other hand, builds from lite funk to an electrifying climax (courtesy of Scofield's progressively heated fretwork), but it's the psychedelic dub deconstruction of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love" that is the most impressively reimagined of the three.

Considering its winning combination of tuneful melodies, danceable rhythms and earthy textures, Juice is Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood's most appealing, cohesive and consistently engaging release to date.

Track Listing: Sham Time; North London; Louis the Shoplifter; Juicy Lucy; I Know You; Helium; Light My Fire; Sunshine of Your Love; Stovetop; The Times They Are A-Changin'.

Personnel: John Medeski: keyboards; John Scofield: guitar; Billy Martin: drums, cuica, talking drum, caxixi and guiro; Chris Wood: basses.

Title: Juice | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Indirecto Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Live! CD/LP/Track Review
Live!
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: July 19, 2018
Read My Favorite Things(1960-1969) CD/LP/Track Review
My Favorite Things(1960-1969)
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 19, 2018
Read The Acadian Orogeny CD/LP/Track Review
The Acadian Orogeny
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 19, 2018
Read Drift CD/LP/Track Review
Drift
by Paul Rauch
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Journey Moments CD/LP/Track Review
Journey Moments
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Moku Maluhia - Peaceful Island CD/LP/Track Review
Moku Maluhia - Peaceful Island
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 18, 2018
Read "All You Gotta Do" CD/LP/Track Review All You Gotta Do
by Doug Collette
Published: September 16, 2017
Read "Yequm" CD/LP/Track Review Yequm
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 24, 2017
Read "Ninety-Nine Years" CD/LP/Track Review Ninety-Nine Years
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 13, 2018
Read "The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow" CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by John Sharpe
Published: January 23, 2018
Read "Trajectory" CD/LP/Track Review Trajectory
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 3, 2018
Read "True Story" CD/LP/Track Review True Story
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 5, 2018