Artist: Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood
Release Date: 09/16/2014
Jazz guitar god John Scofield joins the wildly inventive Medeski, Martin & Wood for their fourth recording together. Juice follows in the footsteps of the group’s seminal 1998 release A Go Go, a highly acclaimed jazz-funk statement that sparked a lasting collaboration that has already enjoyed sixteen years of music-making. Their latest finds the like-minded improvisers coming together over a cocktail of influences from Latin to psychedelic rock, offering four covers amongst originals with each band member contributing tunes.
Two of the project’s high points, “Helium” and “Louis the Shoplifter” feature keyboardist John Medeski on acoustic piano marking something of a departure from previous work with MMW. Bassist Chris Wood is peerless when it comes to low-down driving grooves, something that has helped make MMW perhaps the most successful jazz crossover group since Miles Davis. On his tune “Helium,” Wood seamlessly imbues a disco-funk melody over Latin rhythms in what he calls his “twisted take on Latin music.”
Among the album’s covers is the Dylan classic “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” perhaps a surprising choice, but one that the band owns convincingly enough. Likewise, The Doors’ “Light My Fire” would seem an odd addition to a project that used boogaloo and Latin as its starting point, but the chemistry of the group ensures that the album coheres regardless of how far afield they travel.
– Eric Russ