Friday, May 01, 2009

Medeski, Martin and Wood - Radiolarians II (Indirecto Records, 2009)

Although often classified as a groove trio or a jam band, keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood have a trick bag that runs much deeper than those categories would indicate. Incorporating jazz, soul and rock 'n' roll, the band builds a unique sound. The music for this album was conceived and developed during their Summer 2008 tour, and then recorded in an Upstate New York studio during the fall. This game plan paid off, because it has produced a consistently good album, with dynamic playing and interesting compositions. “Flat Tires” opens the album with a rockin' riff and some heavy drums. A calmer section is sandwiched as the group takes things out with heavy organ led groove. “Junkyard” slowly develops a reverberated feel, before drums and strong bass introduce an Earthy feel. “Pandirecto” slows things down with a noirish piano trio improvisation. “ijiji” is very interesting, with hollow sounding percussion amongst overdubbed organ and piano. Different found sounds are mixed and mashed up into a weird sounding but enjoyable track. “Riffin' Ed” has a funky bass groove and “Amber Gris” is boosted by a fast and dynamic middle organ section. “Chasen vs. Suribachi” is a feature for Martin's funky and ferocious drum work. “Amish Pinxtos” brings it all together with Medeski coaxing some accordion like sound from his unit before dipping into some massive wa-wa funk reminiscent of the great blaxpolitation sound Jimmy Smith got on his great Root Down LP. There is interesting and varied music on this album, and the diversity of sounds and colors the band grows from their roots in jazz and soul is impressive. This was an entertaining album, and should be gratifying for music fans who like their jazz spiced with groove.
Radiolarians II -

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