Medeski, Martin & Wood
More skronk, less wonk. On The Dropper, John Medeski (Keys), Billy “Illy B” Martin (percussion) and Chris Wood (bass) continue to top themselves, at times building songs on far looser structures than previously heard, without abandoning the astoundingly complex interplay in instruments and moods. What can I say, this shit rocks. “We Are Rolling” makes no bones about it, letting loose with a barrage of dropped beats from Martin, taking the album’s title to business. Following is “Big Time,” a rubbery funk number. Guitarist Marc Ribot shows up for a trio of tracks halfway through the album, including the smoky “Note Bleu,” which recalls Booker T with a double shot of bossa. “Partido Alto” winds its way through a complicated rhythm with snake-like ease. And so on.
As has become typical, this Medeski Martin and Wood album is atypical, an ear-opening experience, a set of music that lives in a nether region of its own, neither rock nor jazz nor so-called “fusion.” Instead, it’s the sound of three people intimate with their instruments, and unfamiliar with their own limits — if any exist at all. The Dropper is another leap forward in the band’s evolution.