Back before the Internet permeated every facet of our existence-before MySpace, blogs, RSS feeds and e-newsletters-bands kept in touch with their fans through the ubiquitous fan hotline.
Despite their “official” air, these “hotlines” were generally nothing more than 800 numbers hooked up to old answering machines in bass players’ apartments. They broadcasted show times, provided tour updates and regaled callers with occasional tales from the road. A few, like that of Medeski, Martin and Wood, allowed fans to leave messages. One message left by a fan in the winter of 1997 changed the N.Y.C.-based jazz-funk trio’s career forever and resulted in two seminal fusion albums from one of the great collaborations in the past 20 years of jazz history.