Friday, November 12, 2004

Chuckle Song 2: Last Chance To Dance Trance (Perhaps), by Medeski, Martin & Wood

I'm probably breaking an unspoken pact with my readers by introducing an instrumental piece at #2 (of dubious genre - just what kind of group are MM&W, anyway?), but the plain fact is this song from Friday Afternoon In The Universe inspires joy and laughter. It doesn't just walk the highwire: it mounts it, then performs slapstick comedy on it. When I first played it for my friend, a virtuoso drummer (and no, he doesn't deliver pizza for a living; he writes code), he burst out laughing, then said, "You can't get away with that unless you're an incredible musician!"

My musical skills are amateurish at best, but here's how I think the song (like so many of MM&W's) works - or "gets away with it." It begins in circus-like fashion by announcing peril: a fudged-up A-minor chord, held open, repeated three times. The groove begins with percussionist Billy Martin and keyboardist John Medeski holding down a rambunctious 4/4 pattern (clearly the triple-minor-threat we were introduced to will have to be resolved), while Chris Wood bumbles around A-minor with his accoustic bass. It's infectious, it's danceable, then without warning Medeski turns on the cheese, laying out a brilliant B-3 organ lounge sound that rings of something you might have heard played between periods of a hockey game, or in your uncle's cluttered basement.

After that, it's all drunken, Chaplinesque excess: a piano solo that spills over, picks up, barks like a dog; percussion that searches out every clattering surface in the room; and a bass line that dances around like a kid in a jumping-castle, but miraculously staying upright until the song's triumphant conclusion: Medeski landing on a properly executed E-minor chord, three times.

But enough of my yakking. Depart for your nearest legal download venue, and pay these guys to perform for your aural pleasure. And if you find I'm wrong on any of the details, by all means, comment. In the words of Homer J. Simpson, "Self-improvement is a passion of mine!"

Chuckle-Head Song #1!


DarkoV said...

Damn it!?? You're right. Although, maybe, just maybe there's a guffaw, rather than a chuckle. Rats!

Tom said...

Hey Whisky,
I've seen Medeski Martin & Wood a couple of times, the first was at the Winnipeg Jazz Festival when they opened for Ronny Jordan. At the time, both were being billed as "Acid Jazz" acts, but when Carol and I (you remember Carol, right?) went to the Franco-Manitoban Cultural Centre to see them, the guys at the door asked if we were there to see Ron Paley. Natch, we said no, Ronny Jordan. His reply "oh, you want the hip-hop!" and pointed down the hall. Freakin' hilarious! But what a show! Both acts were amazing to hear and see. At some point, MM&W had to remind the audience which were chair-bound, that they were in fact a dance band!

So, there you have it... MM&W are an acid-jazz, hip-hop dance band! WTF?

Whisky Prajer said...

Tom - color me green: an evening with Carol? And MM&W?! You dog!

nicola said...

did you transcribe that solo?