[9 April 2013]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
It’s hard to believe that A Different Time is John Medeski’s first solo album. But as I browse the internet, I see that this is technically the case. And if you are arriving at this review from your knowledge of the long-standing jazz-funk firm of Medeski, Martin & Wood, just know that this album will take you somewhere else entirely.
A Different Time is a solo piano album, and a rather somber one at that. Medeski’s dynamic range never peaks above the tame, mild cocktail happy hours of neighborhoods long deserted by young hooligans who crave a major-tight organ solo. To best appreciate Medeski’s skills as a street lamp interpreter, one should locate a copy of Dave Brubeck’s One Alone for an aesthetic parallel. A noticeable difference on display here is Medeski’s fondness for extra gracenotes in the right hand, sometimes swallowing the light melodies. Covers include Willie Nelson’s “I’m Falling In Love Again” and the Gospel hymn “His Eye Is on the Sparrow”.