REVIEW: Medeski Martin & Wood @ McDonald Theatre (Eugene, OR – – 11/15/08)
FYI… my PHOTOS of the SHOW are at the BOTTOM
Keys player John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin, and bassist Chris Wood make up one of my favorite groove and experimental jazz trios on the scene today. I’ve seen them twice prior (once only casually, once as a hardcore fan), and this third time was again in the clearly hardcore fan category.
This tour from Seattle to Reno is the last of three short jaunts in 2008 that are all part of their Radiolarian experiment. This special series – named after a type of single-celled organisms with remarkable exoskeletons – sees the trio getting together for five days to hammer out new material. Then they go on a brief tour to practice the pieces live, after which they cut a record of the new material. Instead of the standard industry practice of write -> record -> tour, MMW will write -> tour -> record.
The opener was no one. This was an “Evening With MMW” type of thing. Which, IMO, just rocked. It’s not to say that an opener might not have been enjoyable, but sometimes you just want to dig into to the real deal.
Medeski Martin & Wood were on top of their game. The hit the stage around 8:20pm and played a 1st set that was about 60/40 on the experimental vs. groove jazz. Their experimentation seemed a little bit more cohesive than, say, their Live at Tonic from a few years back. I dug it a lot, but some of the crowd was definitely itching for their more danceable, groove-oriented jazz. They ended this first set around 9:30pm and took a break…
I toyed with the idea of leaving… I mean, I just saw 70 minutes of fantastic MMW. I’m glad I stayed, though. They hit the stage again around 10:00pm and played another solid hour plus of 120% groove. Great vibe, great fun… at one point all three were playing percussion of some sort. They also had a more rock tune in the bunch. Near the end of their 2nd set, I went to the “lounge” area to see what it was all about. I grabbed a beer and partially watched the encore via the TVs in the lounge (a weird but convenient trend in concert going these days). Near the end of the encore, I had to see it from the floor. Fantastic show all around!!
MMW’s setlist for tonight? Ha! I could only tell you that it was a smokin’ 2++ hour show… but song names and jazz music are usually hard to recollect. If I get wind of a set list via the MMWSetlist site, I’ll post it here. It may very well have been all Radiolarians Part 3 outside of the encore (which had been “Crosstown Traffic” at recent shows).
Their newest album, Radiolarians 1, is out now and is fantastic. As is their John Zorn / Masada Book Two album, Zaebos… Radiolarians 2 & 3 are expected out early 2009, I imagine. I’m glad to be part of the Radiolarians 3 performance this swing through Eugene. They’re going in to record Radiolarians 3 over Thanksgiving (or so said the merch lady).
The Appropriate Linkage:
Next show… tomorrow (Monday the 17th) is Jason Schimmel’s Orange Tulip Conspiracy at Samurai Duck in Eugene. OTC is a great eclectic instrumental band (similar to Jason’s other band Estradasphere but without the “metal” aspect). I wish it weren’t late on a Monday at a dive bar, but it promises to be a VERY good show nonetheless.
MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD CONCERT PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2008 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution