New York City noise merchants Medeski, Martin & Wood have long been at the front of the progressive jazz scene. As bassist Chris Wood stays busy with his side-project (the acoustic duo Wood Brothers), organist John Medeski and drummer Billy Martin decided to play as a duo as well, as they played many a marathon jam session in Martin’s Brooklyn loft. The result of the recent sessions is the first duo release from the two, Mago.
Mago showcases the best elements of the two: Medeski’s intricate organ runs and Martin’s soulful-swing drumming, that together combine to create a deep head-bobbing groove. Martin in particular shines, as he seems to be at the forefront more so than usual.
Martin says that he likes duo settings because they offer a “more direct connection, one-on-one, 50/50.” Despite the absence of Woods bass, Martin and Medeski added no other players to the sessions, instead relying on Medeski’s organ to fill the void. The two have made it clear though that this has nothing to do with replacing Wood, as Martin adds, “No one thing or person can replace Chris Woods’ bass playing and personality.” Mago is not about MMW minus the W, it is a chance for two old friends to try on some different hats, as they provide a tasty treat until the next Medeski, Martin, & Wood album.