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December 1998

Medeski, Martin and Wood
Combustication
Blue Note Records

For some eight years, organ power trio Medeski, Martin & Wood have made jazz-based music virtually undetected by the jazz police's radar. It's not hard to understand-their sound draws freely from '70s rhythm renegades like Sly Stone, Larry Young, The Meters, ELP and King Tubby-MMW defies orthodox categorization. More of a improvisational jam band a la Grateful Dead and P-Funk, MMW is about making you throw shapes and jump around wif' no apology. Their own underground movement, MMW's recording session juice (John Scofield's A Go Go) have made them the band-to-watch. By the evidence of MMW's Blue Note debut, Combustication, even the jazz police are gonna have to give 'em props. Combustication flat-out swings, wildstylin' from the hippy-dippy "Night in Tunisia" vamp underpinning Steve Cannon's spacey tone-poem "Whatever Happened to Gus" to the Art Taylor-mambo/McCoy Tyner-like clave abstractions of "Latin Shuffle" to the slowly swaying Sunday mawnin' gospelization of "Everyday People". These boys got a future.

Originally published in December 1998
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