Interview: Medeski Martin & Wood – Unconscious Musicians (w/ John Medeski, Billy Martin, Chris Wood)


Aural States sat down with Medeski Martin & Wood while they were in town for the 2009 Traffic Jam Festival to discuss their new three-record series, Radiolarians.

AS: I’m curious about the new approach to writing and recording music that you used for Radiolarians. This year, rather than recording a studio album and then touring in support of the album, you wrote the tunes on the road the previous year and then recorded and released a new live album every 4 months.

Chris Wood: I mean, we never ever really did it like that, really. I mean, you know, we loosely did it like that, but we never had, sort of, like the latest tunes that were hits. I guess we trained our audience early on by just playing whatever we want, when we want. *laughs* They sort of get what they get. But I think for this process, part of the incentive to set it up this way where we write new music, tour, record, three times is that it is a way for us to write a whole bunch of new music together.  And we didn’t have the constraints of a tradional record deal since we were doing it ourselves. We put out a lot more material, and we’ve always wanted to do that becuase it’s so long in a traditional record deal between each record.  It’s like a year and a half sometimes, and by the time the record comes out you’re already sick of the music.

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Preview: Traffic Jam @ Sonar (2009.09.05-07)

Jammin' in the Streets

Jammin' in the Streets

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01. MP3: Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk w/ Skerik – I Cannot Make It (Sly Stone), Live @ Tipitina’s in New Orleans (2009.05.30) via Internet Archive

02. MP3: Medeski, Martin & Wood – Flat Tires from Radiolarians II (2009)

This Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, Sonar will be hosting a brand new late summer festival called Traffic Jam. That’s right, Herby Nuggz, it’s like I’m speaking directly to you through my computer.

For a brand new festival held at a single venue in the heart of a major metropolitan area, the lineup is stellar. Moreover, the setting should seem positively intimate compared to other ultra-mega summer festivals. There will be an outdoor stage — the weather report looks clear so bring sunblock rather than umbrellas — as well as two indoor stages.

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Live Review / Photos: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens @ Ramshead Live (2009.05.07)


All photos: Greg Szeto

Editor’s Note: If you look closely, you’ll see one Victoria Legrand from a little band called Beach House, playing backup dancer for Ms Sharon Jones.

Even though I have read about the history of now defunct Desco Records in the newspaper of record, I had never really heard of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings before. A name like that is like a secret code for soul, and they proved that they’ve got it in spades.

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Album Review: White Rabbits – It’s Frightening (TBD)


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MP3: White Rabbits – Percussion Gun from the forthcoming LP It’s Frightening

White Rabbits have always been a concussion ensemble of vicious rhythms and unconventional minor compositions. With It’s Frightening (release May 19 2009), they take things in a different direction. Overall, It’s Frightening is not as danceable as their freshman effort, but has more intricate compositions and lush textures as well as a consistency that Fort Nightly (2007) lacked.

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Live Review: JFJO & Lafayette Gilchrist feat. The New Volcanoes @ the 8X10 (2009.04.16)


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MP3: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey – Sean’s Song from Walking With Giants (2004)

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MP3: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey – Oklahoma Stomp from Winterwood (2009)

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MP3: Lafayette Gilchrist – New Jack from New Jack (2005)

I showed up late to the 8×10, but fortunately for me so did JFJO. Due to their typical punishing road schedule, the band was arriving from Brooklyn (where they returned the following day to record an EP) and ran into congestion caused by an accident. This pushed the evening a little later than usual, but the band was gracious, the audience forgiving and all was well.

The 2009 FJO lineup is great. I was a little skeptical that Brian Haas (keyboards) would find someone who  could replace Jason Smart, one of my all-time favorite Ohio drummers, but I was pleasantly surprised by the versatility and rhythmic dimensionality that Josh Raymer brought to the show. He can pull a lot of rabbits out of the trick bag, ranging from hip hop break beats to straight swing.

Having Matt Hayes on upright bass is a welcome addition over the trio, since it provided a constant bottom end that could free up Brian’s left hand to do more intricate comping. For a group that plays a lot of free jazz, it’s nice to have a bass player with less of a melodic role that can hold the song together while Brian Haas is tormenting his Fender Rhodes (at last count in 2006 he told me he had played thirteen electric pianos to death).

JFJO recently released their album Winterwood for for free download

As for Lafayette and the New Volcanoes…nothing sounds like a real piano, but I was let down by the thin sound of the Kurtzwiel electric piano Lafayette played all night.

2008 Wrap-Up (John) – Happy New Year from the Morlocks!

Editor’s Note: Each of the writers from Aural States was given free-reign to make an optional year-end post, filled with lists, oped, whining, whatever…this is what one came up with:

To anyone out there who has read a rare post of mine, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your readership and wonderful taste in music. For anyone out there who is wondering why I don’t post more often, I discovered that it’s because most of the music I listen to was released prior to 1973. I did finally discover Vampire Weekend this week, but I needed a lot of help. I would also be remiss if I did not thank Greg for his guiding vision and the great care he takes as an editor to clean up all of the horrifying formatting in my posts.

This year has brought a lot of exciting new changes to auralstates.com, and I’m thrilled to be invited to use this space to take more credit than I really deserve in helping shape the public face of auralstates.com. This site is Greg’s baby, but I occasionally take some time to write a little CSS or update to the newest version of WordPress. Actually… I am reminded now that 2.7 is available.

There’s a world going on underground!

Interview & Review: Robert Walter Trio @ the 8×10

Robert Walter Trio (Robert Walter – keyboards, James Singleton – upright bass, Johnny Vidacovich – drums) played an exciting set at the 8X10 populated by songs from Super Heavy Organ (2006) and their new album Cure All (2008) as well as a few surprises. Robert schlepped his chopped B3 and Fender Rhodes wired to a Proco Rat 2 and a Maxon analog delay. James Played his upright all night and occasionally a Boomerang for looping effects.

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Preview: Robert Walter Trio @ the 8X10 10/2 10:00 pm

Robert Walter

Robert Walter is touring with his trio (Johnny Vidacovich – Drums, James Singleton – Bass) to promote his latest release, Cure All (2008), and will be playing the 10:00 pm show on 10/2 at the 8X10 in Federal Hill. If Robert Walter has slipped under your radar, you’ve been missing out on one of the most tasteful, funky, Hammond B3 organ players of our day.

If you’re into The Meters, The Neville Brothers and Led Zeppelin, you owe it to yourself to have a listen. If that’s not necessarily up your alley, it’s worth going just to hear a Hammond B3 organ and a Leslie rotating speaker in an intimate club (with spring-loaded dance floor).

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Lil’ Wanye [sic]

Despite all the previous 11 acts that day starting on time, Lil’ Wayne decided to buck the trend and make his fans wait for his performance genius. Thirty minutes after he was supposed to take the stage, members of his entourage began milling about, taking pictures of the crowd. After ten minutes of this self-congratulatory circus, a chorus of boos rang out from the audience. Finally, Lil’ Wayne took the stage forty minutes late. In a perfect world, this would have meant that he would play a twenty minute set. However, his fair weather fans were easily mollified by his misogynistic lyrics and air humping to “Pussy Monster”. Someone also thought it would be a good idea to let Lil’ Wayne have a guitar. Please believe me, Lil’ Weezy can’t play the guitar any more than Stephen Hawking can sing Opera. Finally, Kanye West, no stranger to making his fans wait, showed up for a duet.

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Virgin Fest 2008 Preview: The Black Keys

The Black KeysI lived in Cleveland during the halcyon days following the release of Ohio’s own Black Keys’ critically acclaimed album, The Big Come Up. There was a feeling in the air that the post-punk/garage rock revival might have some legs and the ‘Keys were releasing album after incredible album at an astounding pace. These were exciting times.

As an introduction to the band, let me say that the Black Keys are absolutely authentic. Their ensemble consists of an economical electric guitar, vocals (Dan Auerbach) and drums (Patrick Carney), but their sound is absolutely colossal. Eschewing chichi L.A. studios, they produce their own recordings in Patrick’s basement using ancient equipment and by hanging microphones over water pipes. Hey, Sgt. Pepper’s was recorded on a 4-track. When that wasn’t gritty enough for them, they laid down sessions in an abandoned Akron, OH rubber factory for an album of the same name (2004). If they sound like the genuine article to you, it’s because they are.

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