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Seein' MMW Tonight!!!!


BenLoy

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I'm gonna see Chris Wood get greasy on his basses tonight. Billy Martin will be playin' loose as a goose and tight as a rat's ass. Medeski will be flyin' in from outer space on the starship Clavinethammond. Oh yeah, baby...

 

:thu:

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I used to go see them back when they were still relatively unknown. They had a month-long standing gig every night at the Knitting Factory, where they were trying out some new material.

 

I had never heard anything about them, I had just heard a friend of mine at NYU say I really needed to check 'em out...and MAN!!! :eek: They blew my mind. I felt like I was, um, herbally affected, but I was straight sober. Figure that one out.

 

After the month-long "Shack Parties" ended, they went into the studio out in Hawaii and recorded "Shack Man". I immediately bought that and their previous two albums. "Notes From the Underground" was IIIINCREDIBLE!!! Especially the first track "Hermeto's Daydream". Some freaky, FREAKY free playing.

 

You can have Phish...I'll take MMW any day of the week. These guys don't just jam, they throw it DOWN!!!

 

Whoops! Time for me to go...I'll report back how it sounded tomorrow.

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I'd like to hear what you have to say.

 

Meanwhile, for all you fans of jam bands out there, I would urge you to listen to some jazz for some top notch improvisation. To get a gig in name jazz group requires some serious bass playing ability, not just being in the right place at the right time and cranking out some Rare Groove bass lines.

 

Try John Scofield for starters. On his album A GO GO, the band was MMW plus Mr. Scofield.

 

Or listen to some of the 70's albums where rare groove came from.

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Building off of what Jeremy C had to say, you might want to try to track down some of recently deceased pianist/keyboardist Weldon Irvine's work. His CDs/vinyl from the 1970s are pretty hard to come by these days, but they spark the groove -- a key reason why his tunes have been sampled heavily in hip-hop by folks like KRS-One ("My Philosophy"), A Tribe Called Quest ("Award Tour"), and others.

 

He's collaborated with a long list of artists including Nina Simone, Don Blackman, Lenny White, and Freddie Hubbard. If you visit Marcus Miller's website you can find out more about Mr. Irvine's role in the NYC music scene in the 1960s, 1970s, and beyond, and his relationship to Marcus.

 

Peace.

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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I've seen MMW twice... once at this summer's Rochester (Int'l) Jazzfest, and at RIT's (Roch. Institute of Technology) Clark gym. The jazzfest set was just an hour long tease, but it was great. The real treat was at RIT. A club it ain't, but it was a relatively small, intimate venue, and it was great being so close to the stage. I've been amazed just by listening to them, but to also see them play really blew me away. It adds another element to the experience, and you get to witness these geniuses right there. And since Medeski looks like some kinda mad scientist when he plays, it's even more fun.

 

I agree with Jeremy too... I've become more of a jazz nut in the last couple years, and I'm still moving more in that direction. I really dig MMW's particular brand of improv (as well as others in the scene... Ulu, Schleigho, etc.), but it's good to check out the roots & pioneers of that art form. I just don't seem to get sick of Miles' Kind of Blue, and I'm starting to get into the early fusion thing too. Great stuff, all of it!

Regards,

~Griff

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Okay the full report...

 

To start out...the guys' holloween costumes were excellent. Medeski took the prize, wearing this crazy oriental "teepee" hat and a wild green mask. Chris Wood was decked out in a tux (presumably from his clubdate days?) with this bizarre phallic "horn" on his head, made from black pantyhose stuffed with foam. Billy Martin simply draped himself in christmas tree lights, which I thought was hilarious.

 

Musically, they were tight and communicative, as they always are. They had a ton of special guests in the second set. DJ Spooky provided the hip-hop flava, while slide trumpet guru Steven Berstein (of Sex Mob) led a four piece horn section which tackled some of MMW's early pieces from their first album (which I consider one of their best...). "The Saint", in particular, was INCREDIBLE.

 

What consistently amazed me, however, was that MMW is a jazz trio where there is no leader. Any one of them had the power and authority to signal a change in the direction of the music at any time...and their ability to follow each other is nearly telepathic. I got the impression that they all regarded each other as bandleaders with equal authority...which led for some wonderfully spontaneous moments... There was a point towards the beginning of the first set where the guys simmered quietly for almost 20 minutes...until Billy Martin unleashed a fortissimo, one bar triplet onslaught on his snare that launched the band into the most raucous, heavy, and funky groove that the audience had heard at that point. It was intense...and I could tell that none of them had planned on doing that...

 

Chris Wood was the consummate bass virtuoso throughout. His upright playing was simply astounding....he was simply screaming through that instrument at several points throughout the evening. His feel is undeniable, and his "stoopid" out playing had me doubled over in laughter at several points.

 

The only negative thing I have to say is that they've gotten so popular that I can't enjoy them in the way I'd like to. I miss catching them in a tiny club down in Tribeca where I could be right up front, soaking it all in. This audience last night was more like a Greatful Dead concert... more stoned-out idiotic hippies than people who really dug the music...the ones that chose to scream out during the quietest, most inappropriate moments really bugged me...but I'm nitpicking. Great show!

 

:thu:

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Meanwhile, for all you fans of jam bands out there, I would urge you to listen to some jazz for some top notch improvisation. To get a gig in name jazz group requires some serious bass playing ability, not just being in the right place at the right time and cranking out some Rare Groove bass lines.
I get into this discussion all the time with people who tell me "Dude, you like MMW? You'll LOVE Phish, man! They'll blow you away!"

 

So I tuned into Austin City Limits when they were playing...and I was not thrilled.

 

It wasn't that MMW had more chops (even though they do)...the communication just wasn't all that interesting. They weren't collectively improvising really...they were just "jamming"...and the dynamics never went anywhere. Trey Anasasio's a fine guitarist, and I liked some things that he did, but they didn't really communicate on the same level that I thought they would. Maybe I've heard all the wrong recordings, but I haven't heard anything that impressed me.

 

MMW are relatively young guys, but they bring their jazz background to the table, where the standards for improvisation are much higher than the jam scene. They spent their formative years slugging through bad wedding gigs and late night bebop-at-a-million-miles-an-hour downtown jam sessions while studying with jazz luminaries like Charlie Banacos and Dave Holland. That's some very intense training ground there...

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Arguably, MMW have telepathy because they don't have a pecking order about who can play what at what times. It's not the dumb bass playa type of gig, where you "support" - though the support is always great in that band. No pecking order, diverse influences and big ears - what a concept.
.
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Hum yeah, New Yawk is a hotbed for developing playing (and listening). So many of the people and bands I've admired for decades (who never just sound like adolescent chops monsters!) come from various NY scenes including the Knitting Factory and No Wave types. Way more sophisticated concepts and composing philosophies... not always operating in Jazz, but never woefully ignorant of jazz - as is the case with so many "jam bands".

 

What energy comes out of these scenes may not be the swill of the masses, but it certainly hits the spot with me. And it wouldn't hurt to look at the artists who were doing proto-fusion either, as examples of people who knew advanced telepathy. Even when rocking and grooving, there was some mighty sly action going on that latter-day proponents of fuzak would do well to emulate.

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Sounds like a great show!

 

Out of curiosity, has anybody here heard Jiggle the Handle? If so, what do you think? I dig 'em! :thu:

Rig:

 

Ernie Ball Musicman Sterling

Fender Deluxe V (Bartolini pickups and BTB-01 preamp)

Schecter Diamond Series Model T

Eden WT-400

Avatar B410 NEO

Boss ME-50B

 

The Mac - My cover band

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