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Jazz on 3: Medeski Martin and Wood

Tuesday 4 February 2014, 13:20

Jez Nelson Jez Nelson Radio 3 Presenter

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‘Psychedelic booty music’ – that's how keyboard player John Medeski describes the sounds in this week's Jazz on 3, and well, I don't think I could have put it better myself. Recorded at the 2013 London Jazz Festival, our featured performance comes from a trio who are quite frankly one of the best groove bands on the planet – the Hammond-drenched avant-funk unit, Medeski Martin and Wood.

Medeski Martin and Wood Medeski Martin and Wood. Photo: Sarah Jeynes/BBC You might have caught the group opening our London Jazz Festival live launch show last November – well in fact earlier that same evening, John Medeski, bassist Chris Wood and drummer Billy Martin had just come off stage from what was their debut appearance and a sellout show there at Ronnie Scott's. We couldn't resist the chance to record the set, a rare opportunity to hear the band open up into more exploratory and extended improvisations than are normally heard on their recordings. The band kick off with 'Agmatia', a piece by John Zorn that proves the perfect excuse for an out-of-space excursion that segues into their own track, 'The Lover'. Throughout the performance Medeski exploits the full range of twisted keys and psych sounds on offer from his organ, but also spends some brilliant bluesy moments at the piano later on in the set. The slow-burner 'Shack Man' sees the band take the pace down a gear with some hypnotic minimal grooving, before their upbeat finale 'Padrecito' ends the show with a bang and features a standout solo from Wood on upright bass.

Throughout the programme John Medeski also joins me on the line to talk about the gig and shares stories on his influences ranging from gospel organ to Sun Ra – plus the classical touch that inspired his first solo album at the piano, A Different Time.

You can listen online to the programme for seven days.


If you have comments about the show, or requests for music you’d like to hear, do get in touch at jazzon3@bbc.co.uk or on twitter at @BBCJazzon3.

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