The threat of rain and a persistent mist over Central Park proved no deterrent for the dedicated fans of Medeski Martin & Wood Saturday night. They rewarded with an especially meaningful performance by the trio as part of the month-long, and citywide, Blue Note Jazz Festival. The group, celebrating its twentieth anniversary this month, is as responsive and agile as ever, flowing with sonic singularity. They immersed themselves in every genre they touched (prog rock, Javanese gamelan, funk, and soul among them), transitioning effortlessly in between. An extensive New Orleans-style stride piece, featuring John Medeski on acoustic piano and Chris Wood on double bass, shifted into a double-timed Latin variation before coming full circle. Completing a career cycle, the group saved their first collaborative composition ever as an encore.
Medeski Martin & Wood was not alone in bucking jazz trends, however. Openers Josh Roseman and the King Froopy Allstars, as well as drummer Jim Black’s AlasNoAxis, each deviated on their own terms; trombonist Roseman and his sprawling horn section suggested samba without settling on it while Black et al brought distortion and myriad other textures.
Jim Black’s AlasNoAxis
Josh Roseman and the King Froopy Allstars
Medeski Martin & Wood
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