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Medeski, Martin & Wood: Friday Afternoon in the Universe

Album Reviews:

Down Beat (4/95, p.35) - 4 Stars - Very Good - "...Cartoon music for the 90's....the writing reflects the band's influences: early fusion, rock & roll, Mingus, probably Sun Ra, to name a few....FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE somehow confirms the band's place in this strange world of jazz..."

Option (5-6/95, p.116) - "...equal parts bebop, blues, avant-garde and hip-hop--and always as soulful as hell..."

Musician (4/95, p.70) - "...quick-footed and lithe. The evocative melodies soar close, at times, to the simple charm of Nino Rota....Russian folk melodies,...the chase scene to an Italian spy flick, even some early Allman Brothers-inspired fat-back corrugate the most creative rhythmic jamming this side of Herbie Hancock's Headhunters..."

Mojo (Publisher) (7/95, p.119) - "remarkable avant-hip hop organ/bass/drums trio Medski, Martin & Wood...[demonstrate] freaky funk, free interludes, amazing group chemistry and chops that slacken the jaw, this could be the hippest music in the universe."

Album Notes

Medeski Martin & Wood: John Medeski (piano, Wurlitzer, organ, Clavinet); Billy Martin (drums, percussion); Chris Wood (wood flute, harmonica, acoustic bass).

Additional personnel: Tonino Benson (vocals, sound effects); Carl Green (Thai flute); Danny Blume (guitar).

Producers: John Medeski, Billy Martin, Chris Wood, David Baker, Jim Payne.

Recorded at Sears Sound, New York on July 24-26, 1994, and in Puna, Hawaii in January and February 1994.

On its third album, 1995's Friday AFTERNOON IN THE UNIVERSE, the New York City jazz trio Medeski, Martin & Wood solidifies its adventurous sonic amalgam, blending downtown avant-garde sensibilities with decidedly funky grooves and beats. Leaning heavier on MMW originals than prior outings, the record gets going with "The Lover," a slinky tune that finds the group in Meters mode, particularly with John Medeski's playful organ lines, and then shifts gears into the obtuse yet mesmerizing "Paper Bass," which is propelled by Chris Wood's staccato acoustic-bass work. Friday really hits its stride with "Last Chance to Dance Trance (Perhaps)," a reggae-tinged number that allows Wood plenty of fluid solos, and sees drummer Billy Martin holding down the rhythm with subtle mastery. Aside from '99's LAST CHANCE compilation, this is the best way to sample MMW's soul-jazz-influenced era, and catch the ensemble just as it was embraced by the jam-band crowd, a shift that would subsequently garner the act a deservedly larger audience.


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