All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood: Out Louder

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
I got to the Medeski, Martin & Wood party late and left early. Combustication (Blue Note, 1998), a funk gumbo masterpiece with a generous side order of knowing jazz references, was and remains a satisfying meal. But neither The Dropper (Blue Note, 2000) nor Uninvisible (Blue Note, 2002) did it for me: the episodic, cut and paste tunes and generally short track playing times were irritating. The band clearly had attitude, vision and a good weed dealer, but they needed to work on their attention span, not just flit from one idea to another like butterflies. Underwhelmed, I missed End Of The World Party (Just In Case) (Blue Note, 2004) completely.

Guitarist John Scofield too has disappointed more often than delivered. Plenty of technique, not enough soul: the funkier he tried to get, the less he convinced. Uberjam (Verve, 2002) in particular seemed like a bad case of the emperor's new clothes.

But maybe the creator does have a master plan, for somehow Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood's Out Louder found its way onto the player—and it's a delight, an arresting, inventive, developmental and groovalicious stew of funk, rock and jazz confusion. It's the second recording by the quartet, following the Scofield-led A Go Go (Verve, 1998), but this time an explicitly collaborative effort, and it brings out the best in all concerned.

There are two discs. The first is a 62-minute studio recording made in January 2006, the second a 45-minute selection of tunes from a gig at The Bowery Ballroom in New York near the end of the year. Perhaps unexpectedly, the studio disc is the strongest. Scofield's linear, narrative approach, which favors a beginning, middle and end, complements and focuses MM&W's penchant for vertical slices of texture and ambience. Certainly, John Medeski's B3 on Scofield's opening "Little Walter Rides Again," which is actually a lot more Booker T & The MGs than Walter, has never sounded bigger or fatter. He swamps the speakers with billowing great washes of sound and sustains his ideas through a satisfying sequence of tension and release.

Other standouts include the close on 11-minute "Down The Tube," a dangerous mess of funk driven by massive, near inchoate slabs of bass and deep organ, and "What Now," which builds into an out there collective thrash. There isn't a bum track included, and along the way the mood varies with the South Asian-cum-Latin American "Tequila And Chocolate," and a surprisingly effective five-minute reinvention of Lennon & McCartney's "Julia," whose melodic and harmonic recalibrations put the sentimentality of the original wholly out of mind.

Visit Medeski, Martin & Wood and John Scofield on the web.

Track Listing: CD1: Little Walter Rides Again; Miles Behind; In Case The World Changes Its Mind; Tequila And Chocolate; Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing; Cachaca; Hanuman; Telegraph; What Now; Julia; Down The Tube; Legalize It. CD2: A Go Go; Cachaca; The Tube; Amazing Grace; Deadzy; What Now.

Personnel: John Medeski: keyboards; John Scofield: guitar; Chris Wood: basses; Billy Martin: drums and percussion.

Title: Out Louder | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Indirecto Records


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Denmark I Was Born CD/LP/Track Review
In Denmark I Was Born
by Gareth Thompson
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983 CD/LP/Track Review
In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read A Year Ago Today CD/LP/Track Review
A Year Ago Today
by Doug Collette
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Dreams of Belonging CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams of Belonging
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Ravensburg CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Cosmic Playground" CD/LP/Track Review Cosmic Playground
by Don Phipps
Published: February 20, 2018
Read "Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House" CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Bad Hombre" CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Plodi" CD/LP/Track Review Plodi
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Today" CD/LP/Track Review Today
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 2, 2017
Read "Origin Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Origin Suite
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 2, 2018