Winding down their 11 date tour in Huntington, NY’s Paramount Theatre, Jazz-Funk-Jam masters Medeski, Martin & Wood got back to basics with 2 sets of improvisational ear candy. Billed as an “Acoustic” tour, the trio performed in support of their recent release, Free Magic. MMW had toured once before in acoustic fashion (2007), an endeavor that produced the live tracks which comprise the latest album. The Paramount provided a perfect setting for these guys to focus in on their music and deliver an incredible show of elemental playing and musicianship.
When attending an MMW performance, one can never be quite sure what the trio will deliver. Will it be heavy on the avant-garde mash-ups of dissonant sounds or will it be a funky jam driven dance throw down? Thankfully on this evening MMW played a well balanced show, giving the audience a little bit of everything and more. The initial set began with a very slow rhythmic pace, showcasing the more “out there” jazz styling’s of the group. During this phase the crowd was mostly seated with intensely contemplative and reflective faces. It was as if everyone was trying to figure out MMW’s intention. However, you have to just let MMW do their thing and eventually the flow will find you and your happy feet. By the close of set one, Medeski, Martin & Wood had the crowd shuffling and head nodding throughout the venue. This led to a much more groove laden second set in which the band treated us to a display of talent unlike most conventional performances. Upbeat improvisational jams and a few songs from the album Free Magic were characterized by an arsenal of instruments most people could never identify, some seemingly invented by the group themselves. At any point you could find Drummer Billy Martin striking notes on what appeared to be a bird cage or Medeski blowing a wooden Slovakian shepherd horn. Out of nowhere came a giant woodwind instrument that I can only describe as an immense bassoon “thing”. MMW showed just how adept they are at call and response skills with an uncanny ability to communicate with each other on stage. After 20 years playing together and honing their unique sound, it is truly a special experience to see them live on stage.
Luckily, If you have never had the pleasure, L4LM photographer Maria Newman was there to photograph every nuance of this exceptional performance. Check out our extensive gallery of amazing shots and see for yourself just how impressive Medeski, Martin & Wood remain.