Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood: Juice
On their third collaborative outing since guitarist John Scofield’s funk-tastic A Go Go, MSMW sound so loose and relaxed, we should consider ourselves lucky they even remembered to hit “record” and preserve this extended in-studio throw-down. It starts, auspiciously enough, with the loping New Orleans groove of “Sham Time”—a free-form conversation piece between Scofield and John Medeski, with Billy Martin and Chris Wood locked in their usual symbiotic backbeat. Further on, Sco’s “North London” showcases his sunny melodic lines, while Wood’s “Helium” conjures a West Africa-meets-Krautrock excursion that gives Martin room to stretch out on talking drums. But the album’s cover versions are where things get really—uh, juicy; on The Doors’ “Light My Fire,” Sco unexpectedly takes on Ray Manzarek’s famous organ line, with Medeski laying out on sustained piano chords, while Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” turns into an extended dub freakout, and Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” gets a lyrical, almost churchy treatment.