Even fans of Medeski, Martin & Wood may find A Different Time a somewhat surprising departure for the group’s fearless piano player. In his first solo recording, John Medeski has allowed himself to drop the habits of twenty years playing groove-laden jazz music, in favor of compositions and improvisations that are more introspective. “In all honesty, it was a little scary to put this out because it’s so meditative and contemplative,” Medeski confesses. “I know it’s not what anybody’s expecting, but it’s a side of me that exists.”
A Different Time is as much a celebration of a historic piano, a 1924 Gaveau, as it is a work of artistic expression. Recording at Waterfront Studios within a 19th-century church along the Hudson River Valley, Medeski turned to the classic French piano, similar to the Pleyel favored by Chopin, and delved into the unique sensibilities of the instrument. “When you play delicately you can get a lot of nuance and really make this instrument sing,” Medeski explains.
The album not only represents a first for Medeski but for Sony Classical’s OKeh Records as well. Once home to jazz giants like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, the label has been revived as an outlet for new jazz releases. A Different Time marks the first release of solo material from the recording session; however, fans should expect another following closely on its heels.
– Eric Russ