Medeski, Martin and Wood, Truckee Regional Park, Truckee, CA- 6/21
I remember when I bought Medeski, Martin and Wood's 1993 release _It's a
Jungle in Here_, about eight years ago and read the liner notes. I felt
connected to those words, it was my kind of language. "Rhythms never
heard before insinuate themselves with gradually increasing force until
they have infiltrated every cell …" When the grooves started flowing out of my boom box, all I could utter
was a smooth "yeah" on the exhale – it was my kind of music.
At the Monday MMW 6/21 Truckee Regional Park show in Truckee, Calif. I
had a similar response when the trio took the stage. Billy Martin
started to lay down a beat, that led to a texture, developing into a
groove. "Yeaaahhhh ."
Medeski, Martin & Wood were only a day into their conglomeration tour
with Roots and 311. The night before they had played Berkeley, the next
night they'd be in Long Beach. The trio took a one night break from that tour to play a solo date in
the Sierra, north of Lake Tahoe near the mountain town of Truckee. Known
as a waypoint for the Central Pacific Railroad, and infamous for nearby
Donner Lake, site of the mid-1800s tragedy, Truckee seemed an unlikely
spot to hear the soulful sounds of a progressive groove trio.
But shortly after 7 p.m. there they were on the concrete slab that
passed for a stage with the Truckee River running behind them and a
train whistle mingling into their opening piece.
MMW setlists are notoriously hard to encapsulate into something that
makes sense because of their improvisational style of playing, and this
show was no exception. But the first set certainly included Ray Charles' "Lonely Avenue" and a
"Latin Shuffle." Having received an advance copy of MMW's upcoming September release _End
of the World Party (just in case)_ the previous week, I was pretty sure I heard elements from that
album. I think, but I can't be certain, I
heard portions of the songs "Bloody Oil," and "New Planet."
The second set was a non-stop groove, opening with some outlandish
keyboard effect stroking from John Medeski. Chris Wood opted for his
bass guitar, in lieu of the stand-up, for a better part of the second
set. Somewhere in that open ended jam was a nice version of John
Coltrane's "Syeeda's Song Flute."
The "Bubblehouse" encore ran down just after the 10 p.m. curfew placed
on the venue by the city.
The three then slipped into the night under the cover of a mountain
breeze in the pines and oaks and a crescent moon creeping towards Donner
It was the first full day of the summer and the night was still warm.
MMW's performance was prime, they seem at their peak, and the dancing
legions were sweating. It was a good solstice.