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Published: 2013/05/31
by Ron Hart

Solo Time for John Medeski

What inspired you to cover Willie Nelson’s “I’m Falling In Love Again”?

I love Willie. I love his tunes. “Who’ll buy my memories” is one of my favorite solo recordings by anyone and I’ve always thought about putting out a solo piano record called On the Rhodes Again. “I’m Falling in Love Again” is one of my favorites, but anytime I tried it, it sounded corny when I played it on piano. Something about the tone and nuance of the Gaveau made it possible to play more simply.

What was your first reaction when you got the call to be the first act signed to the resurrected O’Keh label? How did it come about?

I am not worthy. I contacted Wulf [Müller, longtime music industry veteran who heads Sony Classical] about putting this record out and he said yes. At the time I didn’t realize it was going to be on O’Keh. I’m just glad to get it out there. Maybe I’m the new Burl Ives…

What were some of your favorite titles from O’Keh?

So many great artists were on O’Keh. It’s one of those labels that anything that was on it was good:
Dorothy Love Coates and the Gospel Harmonettes
Mississippi John Hurt
Blind Lemon Jefferson
Louis Armstrong
Johnny Otis
Keb Mo
New Orleans Rhythm Kings
King Oliver
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Eddie Heywood

Are there any plans to bring MMW to O’Keh as well?

MMW is best doing things independently, but you never know what might happen.

Is MMW working on anything new presently?

We always have lots of ideas floating around. It’s hard to know what’s going to happen first. Right now, we have a few things in the works. We’re starting a collaboration with Alarm Will Sound, which we are excited about. We’re talking about another record with Scofield, a record with vocalists produced by Vernon Reid and doing a series of live in the studio recordings—for a small audience—collaborating with other artists.

How do you like it up in Kingston, NY? I grew up in the Wallkill area, and I am very interested to know your thoughts on the Hudson Valley area and what brought you up there.

More trees than people. That’s why I moved up here from NYC. It’s what I need for inspiration and to balance my lifestyle.

What’s the word on The Word? Is there any activity happening on that end of your spectrum?

We always talk about getting the word together again for something. We’ve reassambled for a few gigs over the years, almost made another record last year, but nothing concrete right now. It’s a lot to get together, with everyone’s schedule. I hope it happens.

Oh, I am currently in the market for a nice toy piano for my infant son. What do you recommend for him?

Ha. Well, honestly, get a real piano; even a cheap upright. You can sit him up there and let him touch it and bang it. My dad used to sit me up with him at the piano and I’ve seen some funny photos of me sitting at the piano when I was a baby. It’s never too early. Schoenhut make good toy pianos, they’re not cheap, but you can have them for a lifetime. I have a couple that I found and use that are at least 50 years old. But you can get great new ones at http://www.toypiano.com/.

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